Survivor Stories

Troy’s Survivor Story

The story of Troy’s cardiac arrest and survival. Troy survived cardiac arrest because of an immediate call to 911, compression-only CPR provided by his wife and son, and quick effective care by first responders, medics and the hospital.


Richard Gingras Story

“Richard’s recovery was nothing short of a miracle. The paramedics and doctors worked like a well-oiled machine. I can’t express how grateful I am to have my husband here with me today! ” -Katherine Gingras

Rohnert Park residents and loving parents Richard Gingras and his wife Katherine threw their daughter a fun overnight party for her 14th birthday. After a late night of supervising a group of young teenagers, Katherine watched her husband slowly climb out of bed in the morning. Richard stood up, his eyes rolled back, and he fell to the floor.

She quickly called 911 from the bedroom phone, and the 911 dispatcher told her to begin CPR. It had been 28 years since Katherine had taken a CPR course, but the phone luckily had a speaker function, and the dispatcher was able to walk her through the process step by step. Rohnert Park Public Safety Fire Department personnel arrived soon after and took over. Within moments the Son​oma Li​fe Sup​port ambulance crew joined them and hooked Richard up to a cardiac monitor. Richard was in V-Fib arrest, so the ambulance crew administered the first of several defibrillation shocks, while continuing with CPR in between. Richard was then transported to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

His probability for survival was very low; however, Richard was a candidate for therapeutic hypothermia, a recently introduced treatment that has shown to reduce neurological damage in heart attack patients. After the treatment they began to warm him up and wake him. The process was rough on Richard’s body and on his family, but eventually he awoke and began recovery. After 10 days at SRMH, he was transferred to Sutter Hospital, where doctors installed an ICD, a device that helps maintain a regular heart rhythm, into Richard’s heart. According to his cardiologist, Dr. George Smith, Richard’s heart had incredibly regained its function.

Katherine explained just how much luck was involved in her husband’s recovery. Richard had lost over 100 pounds since the previous year. The 911 dispatcher was able to give Katherine great instructions on the speaker phone. Because of the change to daylight savings time, the Fire Crew was on duty that day, and the station otherwise would have been closed. Most importantly, the ambulance had arrived very soon after Richard’s heart attack to administer the AED shocks.

Largely due to these fortunate circumstances, Richard was back at the family business delivering food to restaurants around the area within a month of his cardiac arrest. Now every year on November 1st, Richard and Katherine’s daughter celebrates her birthday, and Richard celebrates his re-birthday.


Marcelo Arguelo Story

“All I remember is warming up on the tennis court and then waking up in ICU. If it wasn’t for CPR and the nearby AED, I wouldn’t be here today.” – Marcelo Arguelo

A very familiar face on tennis courts in the Sonoma County region, Marcelo Arguelo was the picture of health—strong, athletic, and with no family history of heart problems. On April 23, 2011, while warming up to play at the Petaluma Athletic Club, Marcelo slumped to the ground unconscious without warning. Marcelo’s tennis opponent that day was Tony Giacomini, an off duty paramedic, who immediately began CPR, and called out for someone to call 911 and to bring the club’s automated external defibrillator (AED). Tony used the AED to give Marcelo the first shock, and within minutes the Petaluma Fire Department was on scene to aid Tony in saving Marcelo’s life. Marcelo’s heart was in a chaotic rhythm called Ventricular Fibrillation, a condition that requires electric shock to correct.

The paramedics continued to defibrillate Marcelo while on the tennis court, as well as en route to Petaluma Valley Hospital. Two minutes before arriving at the ER, they finally managed to restore Marcelo’s heartbeat. ER doctors diagnosed his condition as sudden cardiac arrest. The clinical team induced hypothermia, cooling his body to preserve neurological function. They kept him in an induced coma for 26 hours, then the slow rewarming process began, and Marcelo showed amazing signs
of recovery.

Marcelo was transferred to Santa Rosa Memorial’s cardiac cath lab. He now has an implanted defibrillator to keep him from further incidences with his cardiac arrhythmia. Incredibly, he has no lasting neurological deficits as a result of the attack. Thanks to the fast response of his new friend Tony, Paramedics, and the staff at Petaluma Valley Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Marcelo is back out on the tennis court enjoying a healthy, happy life with his wife Dana. He wants everyone to learn CPR and how to use AED’s.