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Trained Staff at Fitness Center Save Man's Life

Trained Staff at Fitness Center Save Man's Life photo

Carla Golden, RRT, respiratory therapist and Ken Furlong, RN, Cardiac Rehabilitation supervisor for Monongahela Valley Hospital, used CPR and the automated external defibrillator (AED) held by Matt Giordanengo's to shock Mr. Giordanengo's heart back to life. Fitness Instructor Tim Guffy at the CFH also assisted in saving Mr. Giordanengo.
(May 23, 2014 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

He is the picture of health, a former competitive power lifter in top shape, but he would have died while working out recently if it weren't for a small suitcase-size box weighing less than five pounds and a few very well-trained staff at the health care facility where he lifts twice a day.

Technically, 64-year old Matt Giordanengo, of Rostraver, did die for 15 seconds, but staff at the Center for Fitness and Health (CFH), in Rostraver, quickly responded. Fitness Instructor Tim Guffy at the CFH with Carla Golden, RRT, respiratory therapist and Ken Furlong, RN, Cardiac Rehabilitation supervisor for Monongahela Valley Hospital, used CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock Mr. Giordanengo's heart back to life.

"If they weren't there, if I wasn't in that gym, if I had been in a parking lot or a store somewhere, I would have died for sure," said Mr. Giordanengo, who said the fast actions of staff meant that his heart suffered no permanent damage during the heart attack.

"I felt like I would pass out. I even put my drink down so I wouldn't spill it. When I woke up I was mad at them for holding me down because I didn't realize what happened. I just wanted to go home," he added.

Mr. Giordanengo had suffered a heart attack with 90 percent blockage in the coronary artery called "the widow maker," a problem doctors later told him was hereditary. After CFH and MVH staff revived him, he was taken to the hospital and received a stent to hold that crucial heart vein open and functioning.

"His heart was in a quivery state where it didn't recognize a beat, so it didn't push blood through the body, and the patient became unresponsive," explained Mr. Furlong, who said they did CPR to get the blood moving again and a workout partner performed mouth-to-mouth. "The AED analyzed the patient and gave instructions about when to administer a shock."

Then the staff continued to administer CPR to circulate more blood until the patient woke up.

"It's important to have an AED, and more churches and fire halls and other public places have them, but it's just as important to check that the batteries are okay and the pads are okay because when you do need to use it, it better be ready to go," Mr. Furlong cautioned.

This was the second time that employees saved the life of someone working out at the facility. Four years ago, one of the instructors teaching a class passed out and another instructor retrieved the AED and saved him.

Mr. Giordanengo says he is back at the Center for Fitness and Health twice a day. However, he is relegated to a cardio workout for four weeks while the stent heals. He also needs to take a few medications, which he is also not accustomed to doing. He is eager to return to his normal routine of power lifting.

"The ironic thing is, in the hospital, they put me on a heart-healthy diet, fresh fruits and vegetables and fish, and that's how we eat every day," he added.

"My whole life, I've been all over the world training and competing and these are the best instructors and employees, from the people who clean to the aerobics instructors and trainers," he said of the Center for Fitness and Health staff.

He and his wife Luann, a competitive female body builder, joined the CFH seven years ago when they moved from Pleasant Hills to Rostraver, and Mr. Giordanengo said he thinks so highly of the staff that he bought everyone a Christmas gift this past year.

"When you're in a place you enjoy and they treat you right, it's time to give back a little," he said.

Don Doyle, general manager of the Center for Fitness and Health, said he feels like a proud parent when he talks about the incident because his employees reacted exactly as they are trained; they all are certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), are all trained in CPR and run practice drills often so they're comfortable in an emergency.

The AED is such a crucial piece of lifesaving equipment, Mr. Doyle and Mr. Furlong would like to familiarize Center members with it. They want people not to be intimidated by an AED because CPR alone would not have been able to save Mr. Giordanengo's life.

Developed in partnership with Monongahela Valley Hospital, The Center for Fitness and Health combines state-of-the-art fitness equipment and programs with comprehensive medical diagnostics, therapeutics and rehabilitation services in more than 40,000 square feet of space
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