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Flagstaff man saves a life with new type of CPR
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Flagstaff man saves a life with new type of CPR

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Brian Campbell and Patrick Krimmer

Brian Campbell greets Patrick Krimmer, standing, in the hospital. Krimmer helped keep Campbell's heart pumping with hands-only CPR after Campbell suddenly collapsed at work.

A Flagstaff family is hoping more people will learn CPR after their father was saved by a co-contractor on a work site in Flagstaff.

On May 10, Heidi Campbell was on her way home from Phoenix after a visit to Los Angeles when she got the call from her son that her husband, Brian, had suddenly collapsed at work.

Brian Campbell was working on the heating and cooling system in a building near Bookman’s that is being refurbished, Heidi said. Brian owns Campbell’s AC in Flagstaff.

Heidi said Brian was talking to the site supervisor about the details of the job when Brian’s eyes closed and he suddenly collapsed. The supervisor didn’t know how to do CPR and yelled for help. The first man to arrive to help felt he wasn’t doing the compressions correctly.

At that point, someone asked Patrick Krimmer from Krimmer Plumbing if he could help.

“It was by the grace of God that I was there. I was working in the adjacent room when it happened,” Krimmer said. “When I came around the corner Brian was already lying on the floor. He had this grey color and his eyes were so dilated that all they were was pupils. They were just black.”

Krimmer said he immediately started CPR chest compressions on Campbell. He said he’s known Campbell for about 10 years from working with him on various construction projects around town. They weren’t close friends, more acquaintances.

“It was just instinctual. It just happened. I didn’t even hesitate,” he said.

Krimmer said he learned CPR while he was in the Boy Scouts -- he was an Eagle Scout. He had also just watched something on TV about the new hands-only CPR. In hands-only CPR a person only does chest compressions. They don’t do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“It’s so easy a child could do it,” he said. “I wish more people would learn it.”

COLOR RETURNED

After about 4 to 5 minutes, Brian’s color started come back, Krimmer said. He could feel Brian’s chest refilling with air with every compression he made.

Krimmer ended up doing hands-only CPR on Brian for more than 12 minutes as workers at the site waited to have their 911 cellphone call rerouted to local emergency responders, then scrambled to find a landline to make the 911 rerouting process quicker.

“I wasn’t going to stop until the paramedics got there,” Krimmer said.

Once the paramedics arrived they had to shock Brian three times in order to get his heart to respond, Krimmer said. After getting his heart restarted, Brian was whisked away to the hospital.

Heidi said the family has lived in Flagstaff for 16 years and she’s made the drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff numerous times. She doesn’t remember anything of the drive from Phoenix on May 10 other than the numerous phone calls she made to family and friends trying to find out what had happened to Brian. Heidi and Krimmer later found out from doctors that Brian had suffered from sudden cardiac death.

Heidi said that Brian, who is in his mid-40s, doesn’t have a history of heart disease, hadn’t been sick or felt ill in the previous few days and is generally pretty healthy.

NOT A HEART ATTACK

According to the Cleveland Clinic’s website, sudden cardiac death is different from a heart attack. In sudden cardiac death, something goes wrong with the electrical signals that govern the way the heart works and the heart may just suddenly stop. There may be very few symptoms before the heart stops. A heart attack is usually caused by a blockage in an artery that prevents blood flow to the heart.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, sudden cardiac death one of the largest causes of natural death in the U.S. and responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. It typically happens in people who are in their mid-30s and 40s and effects men more than women.

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, about 10 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac death and have CPR performed on them survive. About 18 percent of those who survive have some sort of complication, such as memory or physical problems.

ONLY BROKEN RIBS

Heidi said Brian doesn’t appear to have any complications, except for some broken ribs from the CPR. Doctors also implanted a defibrillator/pacemaker in his chest to help prevent any repeat events. She said the only indication that doctors found that the Brian might have a problem with his heart was that his potassium levels were high the day he had the incident. He is currently back at work checking out things at various work sites but not doing any physical work. His son drives him to work each day.

“He was just at the right place, at the right time with the right person,” Heidi said. The family has invited Krimmer to their daughter’s wedding at the end of the month.

Krimmer, who visited Campbell in the hospital while he was recovering, doesn’t think of himself as a hero. He just wishes more people knew or took the time to be trained in CPR.

“I’m just gratified I was there,” Krimmer said. “I can’t think of a greater gift for either of us than giving someone’s life back to them.”

The reporter can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or (928)556-2253.

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Education/Business Reporter

Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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