Hundreds march for cardiac arrest survivors

Hearts were pounding and voices were echoing through the streets of San Diego, as hundreds of people marched through Downtown in December chanting “CPR saves lives.”

Cardiac arrest survivors were among those marching, and hoping their chants would be heard. Their goal: To raise awareness about the need for CPR training.

“Had it not been for the dedicated bystanders and CPR administrators, had it not been for those folks, who knew what to do and when to do it, I can’t say it enough, I would not be here today,” said Rev. Dr. Brenda R. Halliburton-Williams, who suffered cardiac arrest in her office. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was on the first floor and her coworkers formed a human chain to get the device to her quickly and, ultimately, saved her life.

Other survivors with a similar story joined to hear Dr. Halliburton-Williams and others during a rally in Civic Center Plaza on December 10. The event was part of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Update (ECCU) 2015 Conference, a four-day event hosted at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The Citizen CPR Foundation’s organized the first ever CPR Saves Lives march, with the goal of raising awareness about the nationwide need for CPR training.

Nationally, only seven percent of cardiac arrest victims survive. San Diego is leading the effort to save lives thanks, in part, to Project Heartbeat, a program that aims to make AEDs as accessible as fire extinguishers throughout our community. There are currently 8,000 AEDs in buildings across San Diego and more than 130 people are alive today because of them, according to Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy.

“It is so important that people —  I mean everyone — learn CPR,” said Chief Fennessy.

Robert Hoadley was one of the cardiac arrest survivors who helped organize the event and led the march through Downtown. He’s made it his mission in life to teach everyone he meets about CPR.

“I was down for seven minutes with no heartbeat and no oxygen,” said Hoadley. “The fact that I’m here is absolutely against statistics.”

Hoadley was 41 years old, and in the best shape of his life, when his heart stopped beating. He now wears an internal defibrillator, which will automatically send an electrical impulse to his heart if it ever stops beating. He works for Evans Hotels, which operates two of the most popular destinations along Mission Bay – the Bahia Resort and the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa. Hoadley is leading the effort to put AEDs in as many places on the resort properties as possible.

To get an AED for your office, or to find more information on Project Heartbeat, visit