It was a regular day, at a regular San Ramon Valley Restaurant during what started out as a regular lunch hour, until the precise moment it all stopped being regular and became extraordinary.
Mark Sessler stopped in to Ruggies restaurant on September 29 to grab a quick lunch, when suddenly it all went dark. Unbeknownst to Mark, he was suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.
Sitting in a nearby booth was Laura Garland, an off duty neonatal nurse, who noticed that Mr. Sessler had lost consciousness and was slumped over at his table. Garland reacted immediately and began CPR.
Tracey Coulson who works as a server at Ruggies called 9-1-1 and stayed on the phone with San Ramon Valley Fire Dispatcher Polly Moniz until Paramedics arrived.
“This is a perfect example of how bystanders can help save a life”, said Captain Andy Swartzell, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator for San Ramon Valley Fire. “The off duty Nurse and the Server did everything right, they called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They kept Mr. Sessler’s heart pumping until our emergency personnel arrived and took over.”
Garland continued providing CPR for a little under five minutes until San Ramon Valley Firefighters and Paramedics arrived on scene. Crews from Station 34 were able to defibrillate Mr. Sessler two times and return his heart to a normal rhythm.
“San Ramon Valley Fire is among the best in the nation when it comes to sudden cardiac arrest survival rates,” said Fire Chief Paige Meyer. “This incident is a perfect example of why someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest is 50 percent more likely to survive should it happen in the San Ramon Valley.”
Chief Meyer credits many factors to the success of Mr. Sessler’s recovery, from the bystanders taking quick action in calling 9-1-1 and starting CPR, to the emergency medical dispatching protocol carried out by Moniz, to the highly skilled firefighters and paramedics who responded in under 5 minutes, and finally to the excellent care given at San Ramon Regional Medical Center.
“The willingness of the two bystanders to step up and take action during this emergency made all the difference in the successful outcome for this patient,” said Captain Jim Selover. “We encourage everyone to learn CPR and help during times of need.”
Mr. Sessler, Ms. Garland and Ms. Coulson will reunite with the San Ramon Valley Fire Captain Terry, Captain Selover, Engineers Mariolle and Balch, and Firefighter/Paramedics Stevenson and Rivers for a special presentation at the November San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Board of Director’s meeting tomorrow, Thursday, November 21. A special presentation will be made to all involved from the Board and representatives from the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association.
About San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District
The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District is an internationally-accredited special district that provides all-risk fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, the Town of Danville, Diablo, the City of San Ramon, the southern area of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley, in Northern California (Contra Costa County). The District’s service area encompasses approximately 155 square miles and serves a population of 170,000.
Everyday San Ramon Valley Fire staffs 15 companies, including five advanced life support ambulances, ready to respond to all emergencies. In addition, the District staffs four volunteer companies; its own accredited 911 Dispatch Center and Fire Prevention Division. San Ramon Valley Fire is also home to the first of its kind mobile app, PulsePoint, which notifies users of significant events in our area and dispatches citizens to cardiac emergencies.