Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District: connecting people, parks and nature: Trained employees save a patron’s life after heart attack at AC

By Bill Evans10-Heroes-at-the-AC---Jan-2016

“It happened very swiftly. I began to get light-headed. I knew I was in trouble,” said retired Portland deputy police chief Rob Aichele, recounting the last details he remembers before suffering a heart attack at the Tualatin Hills Athletic Center on Nov. 5.

“I made a move for the railing (of the indoor track) and didn’t make it. The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the ER.” Aichele may not recall what came next, but the THPRD employees who saved his life won’t soon forget.

George Horton, a maintenance technician at the AC, was among the first to arrive at Aichele’s side. He came running after patron Valerie Mustonen discovered Aichele and yelled for help. “When I got there, he was purple,” Horton said.

The front desk notified Center Supervisor Julie Rocha, who summoned Program Coordinator Emily Kent; the two quickly grabbed a defibrillator and first aid kit to assist.

When Rocha and Kent arrived at Aichele’s side, he was unresponsive.“His fingertips were blue, his legs were starting to turn blue,” said Rocha.

“I ripped up his shirt as Emily opened the AED, we padded him up,” she added. “The analyzer said to shock him right away. We did that, I started compression. Emily gave him one breath, and as she went to give him a second breath, he started gasping.”

As Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue EMTs entered the building moments later, the defibrillator recommended a second shock. “They said to go ahead, and we shocked him again,” Rocha said. The rescue crew intervened at that point. Aichele was driven to Providence St. Vincent Hospital where, miraculously, he reached a full mental recovery in about 8-10 hours.

In a matter of minutes, it was over. “I stepped outside and thought, ‘That really happened’,” said Horton, who lost his mom to a heart attack. “I’m happy that I was there for someone. It makes me feel really good.”

Just how good? Only 12 days after his heart attack, Aichele showed up for a morning stroll around the indoor track.“Rob walked up, gave me a big hug and said, ‘Thank you is never going to be enough for what you did for me and my family’,” Horton recalled. “He was dead,” Rocha said. “Two weeks later, he’s walking around the track again. It’s amazing.”