ER Doctor Helps Save Cyclist's Life with CPR
Cook Children's physician honored by Richardson Fire Department
“The last thing I remember was my coach counting me down after my ride. Five … four … three … two … one … and I collapsed.”
Marc Keralla knew he didn’t have much time left to prepare before taking a shot at his goal. An avid cyclist for 25 years, he’d soon be on his way to St. George, Utah to compete in the Huntsman World Senior Games.
At least that was his plan, anyway.
On Aug. 29, 2016, the Dallas business executive wasn’t feeling his best, but he still made time for a workout at a cycling studio in Richardson. Then it happened.
Carey Cribbs,M.D., an emergency room physician at Cook Children’s Medical Center, had just finished the same workout. Preparing for an Ironman triathlon, she was about to leave the studio for a run when she heard someone yelling.
“I heard ‘Dr. Cribbs, I need you!’” she said. “When I walked out of the locker room, I saw him on the ground.”
Dr. Cribbs says the coach, Richard Wharton, was already on the phone with 911. They knew first responders were on the way, but needed to start CPR immediately.
“I didn’t feel a pulse so I asked Richard if he’d rather do chest compressions or rescue breathing. He said chest compressions, which was good because I’m only 5 feet tall.”
For several minutes, they worked together to keep Marc’s lungs moving and blood pumping until the Richardson Fire Department arrived.
“When the firemen walked in, it was like ‘the cavalry is here!’” said Dr. Cribbs.
The entire ordeal lasted less than 10 minutes, but Dr. Cribbs says it was a totally humbling experience.
“I’ve been an emergency room physician at Cook Children’s for 28 years, but I have never performed CPR out of the hospital before,” said Dr. Cribbs. “It really makes you appreciate our first responders and the things they do to save lives. I’m used to having everything in perfect order and they’re doing this on kitchen floors and parking lots.”
After a shock from a defibrillator, first responders were able to regain Marc’s pulse. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent a quadruple bypass four days later. He says he’s thankful for Dr. Cribbs, his coach and the first responders.
“I later found out that scar tissue from a stent I had put in led to a blockage. I was a ticking time bomb,” said Marc. “It could have happened anywhere. Thank God it happened where it did.”
Marc has since made a full recovery and is back to cycling. In fact, he’s racing in the Dallas Senior Games next week.
On Feb. 10, he was able to share his story with the audience at an award ceremony honoring Dr. Cribbs and Richard Wharton. The Richardson Fire Department gave the two civilian awards for their quick, life-saving action.
Dr. Cribbs says she’d advise everyone to learn CPR.
“It does work. It saves lives and you never know whose life might be next.”
As for Marc, he says it has been a slow process to get his fitness back to the level it was, but he’s still hoping to win the race in Utah one day.
He also hopes he can help others prevent what happened to him.
“Listen to your body. If something is not right, see your doctor.”