Jeff Utzinger frequently runs through his neighborhood to stay healthy, but ironically it nearly killed him.
The Carmel resident suffered a cardiac arrest during a run in June 2017, crumpling to the ground unconscious as his heart failed to pump blood to the rest of his body. Without intervention, death usually happens within minutes.
Thankfully for Utzinger, fellow Carmel resident Bill Schlies decided to take a different route to work that morning. He found Utzinger, called 911 and followed the dispatcher’s instructions for performing CPR as he waited for help. Four minutes later, Carmel Police Dept. officer Richard Lovitt arrived and used an automated external defibrillator in his car to shock Utzinger’s heart back to life.
The trio shared their story Feb. 13 during a ceremony at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, during which nonprofit Bolt for the Heart presented 90 AEDs to Indiana State Troopers to keep in their vehicles. Since 2014, BFTH has been working to put AEDs in all state police vehicles, with the most recent donation bringing the total to 305.
“I’ll never be able to repay this debt, ever, but I can try to be a little part of something as special as Bolt for the Heart and help you all get AEDs in your cars,” Utzinger said at the ceremony, surrounded by Indiana State Troopers. “I shouldn’t be a minority.”
Each year, sudden cardiac arrests kill 335,000 people of all ages and fitness levels, according to Bolt for the Heart. With CPR and an AED used within the first five minutes, the American Heart Association estimates that at least 40,000 of those lives could be saved.
The majority of the funds for the donated AEDs comes from proceeds from the Bolt for the Heart 5K, held on Thanksgiving Day in Carmel.
“The race is almost the afterthought. It’s the fuel that gives us the money to do what we are doing,” said Pierre Twer, BFTH founder and board president. “As we go through the course of a year, we meet a lot of people who have experience with sudden cardiac arrest. Some of (their stories) are not good, but when they are good, they are spectacular.”
Learn more at boltfortheheart.com.