Dave Hedrick still carries a list of the names of the people who helped save his life when he collapsed at the Silver Spring YMCA in 2005. If it weren’t for them, he says, he wouldn’t be enjoying walks and baseball games with his wife, Patsy. Photo by Ben Tankersley
DAVID HEDRICK FELT a little run-down and hot before going to the Silver Spring YMCA on July 19, 2005, but he assumed that was because he had been outside most of the day. Hedrick, then an employee of the Montgomery County Parks Department, had attended a picnic in Cabin John Regional Park in sweltering heat and humidity. But he and his wife, Patsy, also a parks department employee, were committed to their exercise routines. The last thing Hedrick remembers is stepping onto the treadmill.
“As probably 99 percent of the dummies in the world don’t do, I didn’t put that little monitor thing on that stops the treadmill,” he says. “I was a walker.”
During his walk, a blood clot in a coronary artery cut off the oxygen supply to part of Hedrick’s heart. The heart attack caused his heart to stop beating, and he lost consciousness.
“The next thing I knew, I woke up at Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and my wife was saying, ‘OK, be calm. You had a heart attack.’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘No I didn’t. I didn’t have one of those,’ ” he says with a laugh in his Silver Spring home, nearly a decade later. When he woke up in the hospital, Hedrick had burns on his face from the treadmill—“It looked like somebody had taken sandpaper to the side of my face,” he says—but he knew he was lucky to be alive.
Hedrick, now 64, searches his wallet for a list of names that he still carries: the neighbor who helped pull him from the treadmill to the floor, the YMCA lifeguard—only 16 at the time—who helped perform CPR and assisted with an AED.
“I heard that she had gone home and worried that she didn’t do things right,” Hedrick says, his eyes welling with tears. But if the neighbor, lifeguard and others who helped Hedrick at the gym that day hadn’t acted as they did, he says, he wouldn’t be going for walks with Patsy and enjoying Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts baseball games on summer evenings.