Ride the Rockies Cyclist Saved with Help of ZOLL AED Plus
For cycling enthusiasts, the rigorous, six-day Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour is a not-to-be-missed event. For a father riding tandem with his 13-year-old daughter, it became an experience both will likely remember for the rest of their lives.
The life-saving event happened during day one of the cross-Colorado, 412-mile course. Just shy of the 50-mile mark, the 57-year-old father was ascending Cottonwood Pass with its 126-foot elevation, when he felt a lightening-like pain strike his chest. He dismounted his bike, collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest, and fell to the ground.
Fortunately for this cyclist, the organizers of this popular tour, which is limited to 2,000 cyclists, take great strides to ensure the safety of the participants, their fan base of followers, and event volunteers. Bike medics patrol the route ready to assist. Medical teams riding in technical support vehicles, each equipped with a ZOLL AED Plus®, are strategically positioned along the course should an emergency occur.
The medical teams are trained on the AEDs a month in advance, so they have time to prep and practice using them when every second counts. Radios are distributed among the rescue squads so they can make contact in an emergency.
Within seconds of the collapse, the first bike medic arrived at the cyclist’s side, checked his vitals and began CPR. Shortly thereafter, other bike medics arrived to assist with scene management and help with traffic flow. They also escorted the victim’s daughter away from the scene. The medics and some volunteers took turns delivering chest compressions until the closest of the 15 support vehicles arrived with an AED Plus minutes later.
Better Result with AED Plus
Chandler D. Smith, tour director of the Denver Post–sponsored event, was in that support vehicle with the AED Plus and became an eye-witness to the resuscitation. “One medic exposed the victim’s chest, applied the electrodes, and followed the AED’s audible prompts. CPR was continued until a shock was advised and we stood back. CPR was started again when instructed by the AED Plus, followed by a second shock. Then more CPR. When the AED Plus advised no third shock, a volunteer at the scene applied oxygen. Within minutes the patient had a pulse!”
According to Smith, the AED Plus was so easy to use it was seamless. “We followed the AED’s prompts, and the event unfolded just like our training. Everything worked just like we practiced. If it wasn’t for the AED Plus, we would have had a different outcome,” he said. “During the tour, which is now in its sixth year, we typically deal with road rash and head injuries, especially on the descents. This was our first incidence of sudden cardiac arrest. With the AED Plus, we were prepared to handle it with a positive outcome.”
The ambulance arrived on the scene about 10 minutes into the cardiac arrest, and the survivor was transported to the nearest hospital for further treatment. He was later air lifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver for open heart surgery.
Smith had lunch with the survivor, who prefers to remain anonymous, two months after the event. He lost weight and looked good. The thankful cyclist was happy that everything came together, making it possible for him to see his daughter turn 14. Whether riding another tour is in his future is something he will need to eventually take up with his doctor.
In recognition of their efforts, the Ride the Rockies Colorado Bicycle Tour organizers and volunteers received the Adult Life Save Award from the local chapter of the American Red Cross at their annual Breakfast of Champions function. What could have been a tragedy became a story with a happy ending for all involved.