Man tells about his heart attack
KEYSTONE – Larry Oberhill was hitting a bucket of golf balls on a practice tee at the Ranch at Keystone Golf Course last month, waiting for his 1 p.m. tee time.The next thing the Plainwell, Mich., man was aware of was the whooshing of helicopter rotors.Oberhill suffered what should have been a fatal heart attack. But quick attention from his wife, Donna, his sons, Andy and Dane, and a cardiologist who was practicing nearby, brought him back from the brink.”I hit hundreds of balls (every year),” Oberhill said. “I took a practice swing, and that’s the last I remember. I was out.”Oberhill, 57, hit the ground.
“I heard Dane say, ‘Dad!’ and I looked up and here he is going down on his face,” Donna said. “I didn’t know what to think.”She thought enough to jump in to help resuscitate him.She and Andy began giving Oberhill rescue breaths as the cardiologist, Ronald Law of St. Anthony’s Hospital in Denver, began CPR compressions and Dane worked to keep air from getting into Oberhill’s stomach, which often happens if CPR isn’t delivered correctly.Donna, who is certified in CPR as a ski patroller in Michigan, said she remained calm throughout the ordeal as paramedic Miguel Arias, Keystone Security officials, golf employees and others worked. “I’m a woman of faith,” she said. “I have a different take on things. You do what you can do, but you trust that you’re in God’s hands.”Someone notified 911, and paramedics quickly arrived with an automated external defibrillator to jump-start Oberhill’s heart.
“Four hits of the machine and I gasped,” Oberhill said. “They said I was down for 10 minutes. I guess the stars were in the right corners of the sky. The angels were flying low to the ground.”He realizes his outcome could have been completely different. “I know the odds on this aren’t so good for someone my age,” he said. “It was real serendipity. I was lucky it happened when it did and where it did.”Paramedics transported him to a Flight for Life helicopter that took him to St. Anthony’s Central in Denver. He stayed there for three days before returning to Keystone to pick up Dane and take him to the Air Force Academy, where he enrolled last week.Oberhill has already undergone much ribbing from friends and colleagues.”No, Led Zeppelin was not playing ‘Stairway to Heaven,'” he said. “And I wondered if being a Cubs fan was ever going to pay off. I guess I did win the big lottery.”
Oberhill has never had heart problems, although his father had a heart attack at the age of 47 and died 12 years later of another one. He has had stress tests, and has a slight irregularity in his heartbeat, but it’s nothing that would have contributed to the heart attack.Last week, surgeons implanted a stent in one of Oberhill’s arteries, but other than that, he’s not sure why he suffered the infarction.”Usually I drink tons of water, and I didn’t bother too much this time,” he said. “And I’m not in quite as good shape as I am in the winter.”Such heart attack “saves” are rare, and usually attributed to quick thinking on the part of bystanders who recognize the situation, notify 911 and begin CPR until more definitive care arrives.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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