A second chance at life, surviving against all odds

George Baldwin, L3 Communications logistician, stands proud at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Jan. 31, 2014. Baldwin maintains support equipment and orders components to repair the B-2 simulator. In November 2013, Baldwin experienced the effects of Ischemic heart disease, but was later revived by the help his coworkers provided using an automated external defibrillator. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

George Baldwin, L3 Communications logistician, stands proud at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Jan. 31, 2014. Baldwin maintains support equipment and orders components to repair the B-2 simulator. In November 2013, Baldwin experienced the effects of Ischemic heart disease, but was later revived by the help his coworkers provided using an automated external defibrillator. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Ischemic heart disease kills thousands of people every year in Western countries. Its main impact - it reduces blood flow to the heart.

George Baldwin, L3 communications logistician, encountered the effects of this infamous ailment in November last year,in what proved to be a life-changing experience.

"It was a Monday morning - Nov. 18, 2013....I didn't feel great," said Baldwin. "About 10:50 a.m., I went to go warm up my lunch. I put it in the oven and went to get a soda. As I was going back towards my desk, I became very dizzy and attempted to reach for a chair in front of me to catch my balance. I wanted to get to that chair and sit down.... But I never made it. In an instant, I fell to the floor and lost consciousness."

It was during this event that Baldwin's coworkers - Howie Lambien, L3 Communications engineer, and Bob Ridenour, L3 Communications field service engineer - though startled, responded without hesitation, and provided vital life-saving aid to Baldwin.

Baldwin passed away momentarily while unconscious, but was later revived by the help his coworkers provided using an automated external defibrillator.

"Howie called 911 and sent a fellow coworker down to wait for the ambulance while I initiated the CPR process on Baldwin," said Ridenour. "Howie got the AED and I stopped long enough for him to put the pads onto Baldwin's body and let it do its job. It shocked him once and instructed us to continue compressions, so we kept performing CPR until it analyzed Baldwin's heart rate. From there, it shocked again and that's when he started to come around ... And then that wonderful sound of help arriving by ambulance to assist him."

Lambien and Ridenour stepped aside to let the paramedic team take control of the situation.

According to Baldwin, the incident occurred in the same room an AED was located.

"I was really scared," said Lambien. "The AED saved him. George was gone, his face was purple, but the machine brought him back. The machine tells you what to do once it's activated and set up correctly. We have a lot of rooms, and only one AED. If this occurred anywhere else, things could've taken a turn for the worse."

After Baldwin's recovery, he immediately wanted to return to work to thank the men who saved his life.

"When I returned to work, I instantly walked up to Howie and said thank you" said Baldwin. "He then said to me... 'Well, what do you want me to do. It was either help or run away, and I wasn't going to run away!'"

Ever since the incident occurred, Baldwin has made significant changes to increase his overall health.

"I now have a pacemaker to monitor my heart rate," said Baldwin "I exercise a little more and I quit smoking, as well."

Baldwin learned to value the presence of AEDs wherever he goes. He also encourages people to not take CPR for granted and to be more aware of their surroundings in case such an event occurs.

"The most important thing I want people to take from this is to learn and be fluent at CPR," said Baldwin. "It's important to know where an AED is within the building and to know how to use it. I also want my story to encourage Whiteman Air Force Base to look into getting more AEDs around different facilities. It's really important!"

Baldwin is very fortunate to have survived the effect of a common disease known to claim lives, and live to share his message regarding AED and CPR awareness.

It is imperative that people are highly qualified in CPR and are prepared to handle situations like this one; preparation, knowledge and readiness are the keys to saving someone's life.

You never know when you may need to be a lifesaver.