On June 26th John Ogburn died. But this is not about his death. John may have died, but he didn’t stay dead. John will tell you he doesn’t remember anything about that day. Not driving to Panera Bread in Cotswold Village, or sitting in his favorite booth in the back.
He doesn’t remember crumpling to the floor with no heartbeat at 4:15 pm, or anything else. But three weeks later, he remembers he owes his life to a few people that did everything exactly right. If a single one of those things “didn’t happen correctly,” he says, “it could have gone differently pretty quickly.”
April Bradley was first to react, after her brother told her John was passed out in the back of the restaurant. He was on the carpet and “his face was just like – ooooooo Dark purple – it was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said. She picked up the phone and dialed 911, at 4:17 p.m.
The response came fast. Just 300 feet away, Police Officer Guiler was about to get back on the road. Guiler said, “I was leaving that report, made the left in the Harris Teeter parking lot, and the call came out for a male in cardiac arrest at the Panera Bread. I just told our dispatch, ‘Hey, I’m right here, put me on the call.”
Guiler was previously an EMT, he checked for a pulse. Guiler couldn’t find one or any respiration, so he began CPR. John had now been “gone” about 2:30. Officer, Nikolina Bajic arrived about 30 seconds later.
In less than 3 minutes April called 911, and John was receiving CPR from two officers. It was a highly unusual situation. But that was not the end of John’s luck, a woman in the restaurant was a nurse and offered to assist. No one knows who she was, she didn’t leave her name. A few minutes later firefighters arrived, inserted an airway and attached an oxygen mask.
They assisted the officers performing CPR. But attempts to restart John’s heart didn’t work. They gave him epinephrine, and shocked him again and again, but nothing. No response. No sign of life. By now, more than 20 minutes had passed. But nobody would quit.
When John’s wife Sarabeth arrived, they said: ‘We don’t know what’s gonna happen.” John had received CPR for 38 minutes, but his luck held. His pulse had been re-established and when he got to the ER, the first person to examine him was Dr. Amy McLaughlin, an emergency medicine physician.
A quick consultation with the cardiology unit ruled out a heart attack, and the CT scan revealed no blood clots. John had no pre-existing heart conditions, no history of heart disease, he ate healthy and worked out four to five days a week. “The medical term is idiopathic,” McLaughlin says.
John was placed in ICU and put into a hypothermia protocol. Two days later, his body was warmed up, on his 36th birthday, and brought out of sedation on Day 3. Sarabeth said, “When he started to wake up from the coma. He squeezed my hand.”
Dr. McLaughlin sums it up: “Everything that could go right for him after this event did go right.” Astonishingly, the only after-effects appeared to be some short-term memory loss and an extremely sore chest – from the more than 3,500 compressions.