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Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Thanks Carlsbad FIrefighters and Paramedics

Carlsbad resident Robert Jensen, 53, says he owes his life to the Carlsbad Fire Department.

Speech to C Shift, Carlsbad Fire Department

Paramedics from Stations 2 & Firefighter/Paramedics from Station 4

By Robert Jensen

June 1, 2011

Hello. My name is Robert Jensen. I’m 53 years old.  My wife’s name is Erin. We have two young children, Kaitlyn, and Connor. We live in Carlsbad, halfway between your fire houses. 

I am alive, and speaking here today, because of all of you in this room.  Because you, the members of the , did such a rapid and professional job,  I am able to come here, with my wife and children, and thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You didn’t just save me; you saved an entire family.

Three months ago, on Monday, February 21, at 12:27 p.m., I collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest in my kitchen.  The event took place in full view of my wife, two kids and our nanny. I had passed a full cardiac exam within the past year, so this event was especially shocking and unforeseeable.

My wife Erin called 9-1-1 within 10 seconds of my collapse. 9-1-1 then sent out a dispatch to your teams. Then, 9-1-1 had Erin check my breathing, and start CPR as quickly as possible. Luckily, my wife and I had taken CPR training two years prior, so her skills quickly came back to her. 

From the time I hit the floor, to the time you guys walked into my house, it was 7 minutes. While I’m quite certain  this was the longest 7 minutes of my wife’s life, that seems kinda fast to me. By happenstance, we had a somewhat blurry “nanny-cam” operating in our kitchen at the time, so some of the following  scenes were caught on  video:  My collapse. My wife calling 911.  My wife giving CPR. Police arriving. Your fire department teams arriving. Your team using the defibrillator, and  performing CPR. And, your team taking me away on a gurney.  Folks,  I’ve watched  this video a few times. Everyone was working diligently, trying their best to save the life of a man they had never met before. The scene was terrifying to my wife, but it was riveting for me to see  it, when I finally did so, a month later.

After I regained consciousness in the hospital, I was told how few survive what I went through. A few people came up to me and said things such as  “God must have been looking out for you”, or that God was on “my side.”  Well, I have no way of knowing if God was on my side. I’d like to think he was.  The one thing  I do know is this:  my extraordinary wife Erin, who performed CPR on me was certainly on my side. And all of YOU---people who didn’t know me at all before February 21----were on my side as well. So many amazing people were on my side that day.

My life was saved because the system worked, and the system worked because everyone--- from my wife, to 911, to your team--- quickly did  all the right things, in the right order, at the right time. And afterwards, my medical team at Scripps Encinitas did such an excellent job, that I am able to be here today, 3 months later, and spend this time with you. 

Approximately 95% of those who experience sudden cardiac arrest die. That  figure---95%---is a sobering  number to consider.  Believe me, I think about this statistic every day. You see, since Feb 21,  I feel like I’ve just won the lottery.  But, I didn’t just “survive.”  I’m  actually thriving.  I’m even luckier than most, as my own doctors are predicting an eventual full recovery. In fact, I’ve improved so much, that I’ve just started driving again.

I’d like to take this moment to recognize some people, and give out some tokens of our appreciation:  

Engine Captain Mark Berklite

Firefighter Mark Rufenacht

Firefighter Ben Rosenthal

Paramedic Glenn Miller

Paramedic Michael Roy

Battalion Chief Mike Davis

 In closing I’d just like to say this: since this occurred, I’ve heard the word “miracle” tossed around quite a lot, even by some of my doctors. Well, to me, you guys are the miracle workers.  The quality of your work, the speed at which you do it, and your determined, persevering attitude—all of this creates the special conditions  where miracles  can happen.

Because of the people in this room, my mother still has a son, my sisters still have a brother, my wife still has a husband, and my kids still have a Daddy.

You guys just never gave up on me. My family and I will never forget what you did for us. Thank you so much, and God Bless You all.

Deanne Goodman (Editor) June 07, 2011 at 07:37 PM
Thank you Robert and Erin for sharing this amazing story of survival and thanks.
Heather Zevely June 07, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Robert, I loved reading your story and I'm glad to hear you're doing well. We're so blessed to have such wonderful firefighters and paramedics working in our community, keeping us all safe.
Karen Stanley June 07, 2011 at 10:49 PM
Thank you for sharing ... this just made my week!!!
Ron Rickwald June 08, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Robert, this is a great story. Our firefighters are amazing. All the best to your health and continued recovery.
Ray Pearson June 08, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Thanks to your wife and family sharing with us. Thanks to your wife taking CPR and our great first responders. Encourage all families with teenagers to have EKGs to prevent SCA
Erin Thomas June 09, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Thanks, everyone! Too often our firefighter / paramedics do not get to learn the outcomes of their calls. We were very happy to be able to thank the team in person for all that they do. We attended the Carlsbad City Council meeting last night and spoke during the public comment section so that our thanks, and the names of the team members, would be on the public record.
Kim Hawkins June 09, 2011 at 04:10 AM
A friend passed this link onto me and I couldn't help but respond. All of us in the healthcare system thrive on stories like yours, Robert. You were a true miracle that was brought about by some excellent teamwork. That teamwork all started with Erin and ended with one strong-willed, tough cookie- YOU. Thank you to all of the firefighters and paramedics that make such a difference in our community. Without you, people like Robert would never have a chance. Glad to hear you are doing so well, Robert. Thank you for sharing. Kim Hawkins, one of your nurses in the ICU.

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