Skyler Munatones at the 2018 NCAA Final Four semifinal game vs. Stanford University’s and 2016 USA Olympian Ben Hallock, published in Swimming World Magazine

Be A Hero, Always Willing Always Ready

Steven Munatones recalls the episode, “Three years ago, I collapsed in my bathroom in the morning.  Fortunately – real fortunately – my wife and children were home.  No one had left for school yet.

My son Skyler was getting ready before heading out to Huntington Beach High School.  As usual, he anticipated this day was going to be a normal day for him: head off to school, eat lunch with his teammates and buddies, go to water polo practice, come home, eat dinner, study and then sleep.  Same ol’, same ol’.

But I collapsed that morning because my heart stopped.  Medically speaking, I experienced ventricular fibrillation arrest, atypical thrombus (clot) and a myocardial infarction in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery.  Known as the widowmaker, this condition can be particularly lethal because of the location and extent of the blockage of the blood flow to the heart.

The blockage stifles oxygen which then led to an abnormal heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest.  There was no heartbeat and no breathing.”

I first heard gurgling, then a loud sound of something or someone falling down hard in his bathroom,” recalled his wife.  “Our dog Leo started barking a kind of bark that I had never heard before.  Skyler came running down as I called 911.”

Skyler started hands-only chest compressions* on Munatones’ chest as the 911 operator talked him through the process.  He remembers none of this.  “It was a day that my family can never forgot and they later told me about.  I do not remember anything 2-3 days before this episode and I remember nothing at least five days afterwards.”

There was no hesitation in Skyler’s emergency actions.  He had not taken first aid or CPR classes before – but he had seen CPR being performed on TV.   There was a need to keep blood pumping through my body and to my head.  With his father, unexpectedly down and out on the first floor of his home, clearly on the edges of life, he immediately took action as his mother remained on the telephone with the 911 operator, talking through tears.

His hands-only CPR saved his father’s life, at home.  Literally.  The 17-year-old high school senior did not worry that he was not certified.  He did not hesitate because he had never done CPR before.

He did not panic; he performed. He did not hesitate; he was heroic.  As can anyone anywhere under any circumstances.

Daniel Ruacho of the American Heart Association says, “The American Heart Association has a national campaign during the first week in June that spotlights how lives can be saved if more people living in the U.S. know the lifesaving skill of CPR and how to use an AED. Did you know about 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes? If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you most likely will be trying to save the life of someone you love. Be the difference for your parent, spouse or child.

June 1st – 7th is National CPR and AED Awareness Week in the United States.”

* Hands-only CPR is recommended by the American Heart Association.  Courses can be taken with the American Red Cross.

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