Published Jul 12, 2005
Softball Player Owes Life to UVa Medical Center Team
By Sarah Barry / Daily Progress staff writer
July 5, 2005
Dale Finke was only the second to bat that night for the Premier Mortgage softball team. He hit the ball hard into right field, where there was no back fence. He ran the bases, and was starting to run for home when suddenly he collapsed face first onto the ground.
Only 40, Finke had gone into sudden cardiac death.
His wife, Evie, who was playing on the field with him, was shocked. His mother-in-law, who was in the stands, began to pray. Everyone else reached for their phone.
"That's one good thing about modern technology," said his teammate, Ann Harris. "Everyone had a phone. The second question was, who knows CPR?"
Harris, who is going to school to become a health and physical education teacher, bent down to him and began giving him mouth to mouth.
"It's completely different than the training," Harris said. "The breathing wasn't as consistent because Dale was still trying to breathe in."
Another unidentified teammate ran over to the next field where two other teams had just finished playing. Players from one of the teams, called the Scrubs, all worked at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Finke, as luck would have it, had collapsed right next to nine hospital employees.
Two Scrubs nurses ran to Finke and began helping Harris perform CPR.
"Time just kind of stood still," Kara Conley said, one of the registered nurses. "People are saying he was down 10 to 15 minutes."
Harris, Conley and Conley's coworker, Kristie Mann, continued to give him CPR until the ambulance arrived with a defibrillator.
"He was dead. He was pulse-less," Conley said. "Essentially we kept him alive until we could shock his heart back into a normal rhythm."
After the ambulance arrived, emergency workers had to shock Finke twice before his heart began beating again. "His wife stood by just in shock, I couldn't imagine," Conley said.
According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac death is an abrupt, unexpected loss of heart function. It is usually related to some other form of heart disease.
But in Finke's case, he had no history of heart disease, and when he was brought to the hospital, doctors could find no cause for the attack. "Everything came back negative. I have no blockages of any kind," Finke said.
Finke was brought to the hospital on a Thursday night and by Saturday, he felt well enough to go home. "They kept me there a week," Finke said. Doctors put an internal defibrillator in Finke's chest, just in case his heart becomes arrhythmic again. But Finke seems unfazed by the device, and is more concerned with not being able to get back on the field right away. "They said to wait eight to 10 weeks before I start playing again," he said.
Conley and Mann, who had expected to find Finke in critical condition the next day when they went into work, were amazed to find Finke well on his way to recovery. "We walked into his hospital room and he was sitting up in his bed, talking to us," Mann said.
Conley explains that very few people recover after losing their pulse, even in the best of circumstances. "To be out in the field where there's nothing there - the guy is just a miracle," she said.
Finke, Conley, Mann, Harris and all of the emergency workers who treated Finke are all going to be honored at a ceremony this week by the Board of Supervisors. "It's kind of nice that they're doing that," Harris said.
Finke, meanwhile, still goes to the games to cheer his team on. When a ball rolls past him behind the bleachers, he still instinctively moves to follow it. "I'm anxious to get back to doing everything regular," Finke said. If his team does well, he hopes to compete in the playoffs, but definitely plans to play fall ball.
Conley and Mann still marvel at his recovery. "There's a reason why he's alive - he's got something else to do," Conley said.
Finke agrees. A father of three, he plans to stick around for a while. "I'd like a little more time with my wife and kids."
jnette, ASN, EMT-I
Great news...wow. How fortunate he was to have been surrounded by all those folks who knew just what needed to be done !
He's a very lucky man. :)
Marie_LPN, RN, LPN, RN
Yes, that was definately fortunate!
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