In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

July 21, 2015

The Sun Rises for J.R. Bourne After He Collapses Without Warning at the Beach

By In the Loop

J.R. Bourne is thankful for the AED in the lifeguard’s medical kit.  A trip to the waterfront in late June turned out not to be a day at the beach for J.R. Bourne of Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Bourne, age 40, who Jacksonville's News 4 describes as "healthy and active," says he was "just kind of kicking the ball around" with a friend when things "went dark." Without warning, his heart stopped beating as a result of an electrical malfunction, the news station reports.

Bystanders, lifeguards, and eventually emergency responders, were quickly on the scene. The lifeguards, who arrived in a Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue truck, had a medical kit with an automated external defibrillator, or AED, News 4 reports. That AED may have saved Bourne's life. The lifeguards, "had him breathing by the time paramedics arrived," and Bourne was brought to Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, where Norman Patton, M.D., took over his care.

In an extended interview with News 4, Dr. Patton, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, talks about the importance of having AEDs readily available and how that directly affected Mr. Bourne's outcome. "He got very rapid correction of his cardiac rhythm, which is the most important thing after cardiac arrest," Dr. Patton says. "The really important critical aspects of his care were that there were trained responders with an AED that were able to handle the situation literally within minutes … This was a very unusual, but a very instructive case, in that he was literally in the right place at the right time in that he got very rapid correction of his cardiac rhythm."

And every minute counts. "The earlier they get blood back to the brain the better," Dr. Patton says. "There's a 10 percent decrease in survival every minute after cardiac arrest." And in cases like J.R. Bourne's, defibrillation is even more important than CPR for long-term survival, he says. "That's the most important message to get out is early defibrillation really trumps everything else," Dr. Patton says, because it's the AED that shocks a heart back into a regular rhythm.

Bourne is now a believer and tells News 4 that he's "going to push for more AEDs in public places with police, teachers, parks, even at his own office." And he recently returned to the beach to thank the lifeguards who saved him. "It was like the greatest breath I've ever taken," Bourne says of the moment their efforts to revive him paid off. (You can watch that reunion here.)

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Tags: Dr Norman Patton, Patient Stories

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