WILSONVILLE, Oregon — Experts say for every minute without cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the chances of surviving cardiac arrest go down by 10%. A 2022 Wilsonville High School graduate is an example of what can happen when people quickly step in to help.
On May 31, Jair Gamez was playing kickball during P.E. when he went into cardiac arrest.
“I just remember staring at first base and I just collapsed,” said Gamez. “I can't really remember what happened after.”
Gamez’s mother remembers.
“I got a phone call saying that my son collapsed and he didn't have a pulse and he wasn't breathing,” said Maria Gamez. “I was just thinking the worst. I was thinking I lost my son and I was never going to see him again.”
School staff at Wilsonville sprang into action. Maintenance member Lance Entzel, teacher Laura Beko and nurse Mary Groh started CPR on Jair. Inside the building, School Resource Officer Zach Keirsey heard the call from dispatch.
“I ran as fast as I could out there, thinking it might be a staff member,” said Keirsey, a deputy with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. “I never thought it was going to be a student.”
Assistant principal Tate Olson ran out with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), hoping to restore Jair's heartbeat.
“We hooked that up and we were able to continue all those life-saving efforts and really do as much as we possibly could in the fast amount of time I've ever seen in my law enforcement career,” said Keirsey.
Within minutes, and even before paramedics arrived, Jair was breathing again.
“It just all happened so perfectly,” said Keirsey.
“They saved my life,” said Jair. “They said if it had been a couple minutes later, I would have had brain damage or I would have died. I was really grateful for them.”
A week later, doctors gave Jair a pacemaker. During his hospital stay, Jair said he was anxious, but not about his health.
“I was asking the doctors when I would be released cause I really wanted to be here and graduate,” he said.
Jair made it out just in time for graduation day, June 9.
“Just seeing him walking that stage, I will never be able to explain this great feeling it's just amazing,” said Maria Gamez.
Keirsey, who is also a CPR instructor, hopes what happened will serve as a reminder for everyone to receive CPR and AED training.
“I'd do it again in a heartbeat,” he said.