Matt Chamberlayne, 46, a Boulder Community Health Emergency Department
nurse, is no stranger to medical emergencies.
But the husband and father of three became the emergency himself when
his heart suddenly stopped during a seaside run halfway through his family
vacation in Devon, England.
"My heart suddenly dropped into a 'rhythm' called ventricular
fibrillation which isn't much of a rhythm at all, just 'twitchy-twitchy'
instead of organized pumping, and is definitely not compatible with life,"
Matt wrote in a Facebook post from his hospital bed in England. "I
dropped like a sack of rocks."
Luckily it happened near three women – Alison Upton, Hannah Shiels
and Rachel Palmer -- one a doctor and the other who has just completed
a CPR course.
"I was about half a mile down from the lifeguard station," Matt
recounted later during an interview.
"Alison, Hannah and Rachael were the three women runners who first
saw me go down. Two of them, Hannah, who is a physician, and Rachael,
who had recently taken a CPR course, immediately started CPR while Alison
ran back to the lifeguard station."
Meanwhile, Henry Irvine, a lifeguard and elite-level triathlete was fortunately
on the beach getting ready for his swim training.
"Henry was able to access the medical kit and AED (Automated External
Defibrillator) and rode his bike with that equipment to where I was."
Matt said, "They were able to restart my heart with one shock from
the AED on scene while EMS responded and the helicopter was dispatched
to our location."
The AED delivered a life-saving electrical charge to Matt's heart.
Matt credits the group's knowledge of CPR and basic first aid with
saving his life.
A medical helicopter made a dramatic landing near the seawall and Matt
was transported to The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Doctors implanted an AICD (Automatic Internal Cardioverter Defibrillator)
in his chest to protect it from happening again.
Now safely recovering at home in Boulder, Matt is seeing Boulder Heart
cardiologist Dr. John McNeil for follow up care and is returning to work
at BCH later this month. He is urging others to become trained in CPR
and basic first aid.
"Without each of these rockstar humans doing their part I would,
without uncertainty, be dead," Matt wrote in an emotional Facebook
post after his collapse. "No more friends. no more being a dad, son,
brother, husband or nurse. No more trips, concerts, Christmases, camping,
beers, jokes, jogs, camping, birthdays, bike rides, road trips or kid
cuddles ... just dead."
"Do it for your kids, or your spouse, best friend or a stranger,"
Matt wrote. "Do it to be a hero."
On Facebook, some of Matt's BCH coworkers reached out to thank the
UK heroes for helping to save Matt's life.
"Thank you for saving our friend and co-worker!" wrote Foothills
Hospital imaging RN Ryan Huebscher, "Matt is a great guy and a great
ER nurse and yes, saves people on the regular without recognition or praise
except by our team. Thanks for being a hero and saving our hero!"
"Matt is a valued member of the Boulder Community Health team,"
wrote 2 West RN Christine Eaton. "And we need him. Also he's
a really good guy, so thanks."
Matt's family and friends have set up a
crowdfunding page to help defray his family's costs of the overseas medical intervention.
Be a hero! Learn how to become CPR trained
here. And here's a quick graphic about
how to perform CPR.