Skip to main content

Sudden cardiac arrest survivor stories

Bob McClesky, CEO of Sellen ConstructionBob McCleskey, CEO of Sellen Construction

Anyone, anytime, anywhere

When Bob McCleskey, CEO of Sellen Construction, suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the spring of 2011, everyone was shocked. This active business leader epitomizes the healthy Pacific Northwest lifestyle. He plays sports, exercises consistently, gets his annual physical, has low blood pressure and cholesterol, and had no history of heart disease. He is even a bit of a natural and organic foodie.

This frightening SCA showed McCleskey and his community that if sudden cardiac arrest could happen to him, it could happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The Moment

McCleskey was in the middle of the Washington Athletic Club vs. Multnomah Athletic Club basketball tournament. It was near the end of the first half and both teams were playing hard. Bob, as always, was giving it his all. Suddenly, dizziness overcame him and he passed out. His heart had stopped.

Fortunately, everyone around McCleskey did the right things. The Multnomah athletic director rushed to his aid. When he felt that there was no pulse he began to do chest compressions and told a bystander to call 911. At the same time, the newly hired scorekeeper ran to retrieve the WAC's automated external defibrillator (AED). By following the directions on the device, the scorekeeper placed defibrillator pads on McCleskey's chest and electric shocks restarted his heart in a matter of seconds. Then, moments later, his heart failed again. After 30 chest compressions, McCleskey inhaled deeply. His heart restarted for the second time and returned to a regular rhythm. As soon as paramedics arrived he was immediately rushed to Swedish Hospital, Cherry Hill.

Every second counts

Two critical factors saved McCleskey's life that day. First, bystanders acted quickly, beginning chest compressions and calling 911 while locating the nearest AED. Second, the WAC was responsibly equipped with an AED. Without the quick response or nearby AED, McCleskey would have been without a heartbeat for more than three minutes, significantly increasing his risk for permanent brain damage or death.

Today, Bob McCleskey is a grateful man. He is thankful that the WAC provided the life-saving device, and he is now a supporter of the Shockingly Simple campaign to encourage other businesses and organizations to purchase and register their own AEDs.

Though he has always lived life to its fullest, you could say that he now has an extra spring in his step.

Bill Krueger, former Mariners pitcher

Part of Bill Krueger's morning routine includes a visit to the Bellevue Pro Sports Club where he works out on the elliptical or the treadmill, doing mostly interval work. He generally finishes up with some weights. The former Mariners pitcher has been working out most of his life. Although no longer a professional athlete, he knows that fitness is important for health and well-being, and so he fits a daily workout into his busy schedule.

Krueger doesn't necessarily enjoy early morning workouts, but he had arrived at the gym a bit earlier than normal on August 10, 2012 because he was starting his regular work day with a breakfast business meeting.

So, at about 6:30 am on this particular morning he was finishing up 30 minutes on the elliptical. He stepped off the machine and remembers feeling a bit dizzy, but nothing further. Bill collapsed. His heart had stopped.

Luckily, Krueger was working out in a facility that was outfitted with Automated External Defibrillators (AED) and had staff that was trained in CPR and AED use. One of the staff quickly retrieved the AED and began chest compressions while someone else called 911. Following the directions provided by the AED, they administered a shock and Krueger's breathing and pulse were restored. Redmond and Bellevue emergency responders arrived just a few minutes later and he was transported to the hospital.

Just two short weeks later, Bill Krueger returned to the Bellevue Pro Sports Club to meet his rescuers. Accompanied by his wife and daughter he expressed gratitude to the Club staff and management who were prepared with an AED and trained to respond in a cardiac emergency. With medical guidance, he is gradually returning to his workout routine and expects to live a long and healthy life.

Bill Krueger is now a strong advocate for placing AEDs in public places and registering them with Emergency Medical Services at Public Health – Seattle & King County. When an AED is registered, 911 dispatchers can direct a caller to the nearest AED.