Dave and Nan Eddy’s angel doesn’t have a halo (not one that’s visible, at least), but he does have a star. A sheriff’s star.
Modesto resident Dave Konecny wears it on the job as public information officer for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. He was off duty March 11, though, and driving down Sylvan Avenue with his wife when they passed Dave Eddy just as the latter was collapsing on the sidewalk.
My diet really wasn’t bad, I eat tons of fruit. I mean, I’m the editor of Fruit Grower, I have to eat a lot of fruit. ... I walk a lot, too, but you can’t just trust that’s enough when you have a family history.
Konecny changed lanes and could see Eddy’s face was a deep purple. The 57-year-old had suffered cardiac arrest. Traffic prevented Konecny from immediately pulling over, so he quickly circled the block to get back to the fallen man. Several people had gathered, the deputy recalled, but nobody was really doing anything that could help.
Konecny checked Eddy’s airway, found it clear, and began compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He could hear a young woman on the line with a 911 dispatcher. She indicated a police officer was on the scene, so the dispatcher, assuming she meant an on-duty officer had arrived, got off the line, the deputy said. “I freaked out a bit and told her to call back and stay on the line until medics were here,” he said.
About 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
In the nine to 10 minutes until medical responders arrived, Konecny continued with CPR. “I could hear the air moving, could hear him gasping for air. ... I’m a proponent that compressions really are the most important thing” when doing CPR.
Helping spread that message is a big reason Konecny went to Memorial Medical Center on Thursday morning, where he was presented a Heartsaver Hero award by the American Heart Association. The presentation was timed to coincide with the start of National CPR & AED Awareness Week, which is June 1-7 each year. The latter acronym stands for automated external defibrillator.
What does Dave Eddy recall of that Saturday, when he collapsed shortly after noon in front of Sylvan Eye Associates just west of Coffee Road?
I have a very hard time letting him out of my sight. For the first, I’d say, six weeks, subconsciously I felt it was my job to watch him breathe. Because I was so afraid.
Nan Eddy, on her husband, Dave
Eddy is the editor of American Fruit Grower magazine and said his “commute” is a one-mile walk to his office. When he works Saturdays, he takes his Rhodesian ridgeback-German shepherd mix, Vivian, with him.
“My last recollection was putting the dog’s leash on and leaving the house,” he said Thursday at the award presentation. He had texted his wife, Nan, “saying something about the dog and having a bit of indigestion,” but he doesn’t remember that, either.
And Nan found Tums in his pocket that he figures he must have bought the day before. Again, a blank.
About 46 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
But the indigestion Eddy attributed to deadline time turned out not to be heartburn at all. It was angina.
In hindsight, Eddy realizes he should have guessed. “My father’s father and his father both had similar experiences – and died, of course, at about my age. One or both of them was 56.”
Knowing his family history, he said, he should have paid better attention. And that’s now his advice for anybody who has a family history of heart disease. “I didn’t act on it like I probably should have. … You’re your own health advocate, I can’t emphasize that enough.”
I almost collapsed myself, it was exhausting. I didn’t realize how the adrenaline kicked in, but about an hour and a half later, we were on our way to a store, and I had to tell my wife we needed to go home – I was exhausted.
Dave Konecny, on doing 10 minutes of CPR compressions
Unlike her husband’s, Nan Eddy’s recollections of March 11 are vivid, probably more than she’d like.
While Konecny is “Angel Dave” – they call him that to distinguish between the two Daves and because “he truly is” – Vivian the dog also is a heroine in the story, Nan said.
In something right out of a Lassie tale, Vivian ran from the scene of her master’s collapse back to the Eddy home nearly a mile away, to alert Nan. The dog apparently became agitated and bolted after Konecny began chest compressions.
The American Heart Association trains more than 19 million people in CPR annually.
A couple in a car and some youths on bikes followed the dog to her door. “I heard her barking and opened the front door and there were a couple of kids, then Sandra (the woman from the car) jumped out and said, ‘Your husband is having a heart attack, get in the car and we’ll take you.”
She arrived to see medical responders using a defibrillator on her husband. “I’m watching over people’s shoulders who were trying to shield my face from everything,” she recalled. “Dave’s wife, Chris, was holding my hand through it all. I said I wanted to give him a kiss. The battalion chief said, ‘Ma’am, he’s not there, he doesn’t know you’re here.’ I said, ‘I don’t care, he’s my life,’ and he let go of my hands and I ran to the ambulance.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327