“Bad experiences create good responses,” says Dr. Jose Lepervanche, a professor of management at Florida State College in Jacksonville.
This is certainly true in his own life. After surviving sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in 2007, Lepervanche has become a staunch advocate for CPR training and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the Boy Scouts of America and for the American Heart Association.
Lepervanche thought he was in fine health in July of 2007 when he joined 900 scouts and other scout leaders on a wilderness camping trip in the mountains of North Georgia. His son Alejandro and his wife, Flor, were along. Several members of the group set off on a hike, including Lepervanche. When the 53-year-old troop leader suddenly collapsed on a table at the campsite, his fellow hikers thought he must be joking. But his wife realized something was seriously wrong.
Adults in the group quickly discovered Lepervanche had no pulse and had stopped breathing. They began CPR while some of the scouts ran back to the campground’s lodge to summon help.
The Camp Had an AED
Fortunately for Lepervanche, the Woodruff Scout Reservation had invested in an AED.
Ten minutes after Lepervanche’s collapse, the camp’s EMT arrived in a golf cart with a Cardiac Science Powerheart AED. The AED would administer 5 shocks to Lepervanche while the group continued CPR.
It was nearly 45 minutes after the initial cardiac arrest that a local ambulance arrived with sophisticated cardiac emergency equipment. Medical personnel wrapped Lepervanche in a special cooling blanket. He was transported to a hospital where he was placed in a medically inducted coma for three days. Lepervanche later underwent surgery to have a cardioverter defibrillator implanted in his chest.
Lepervanche says he was not just fortunate, but blessed, that he was surrounded by people who knew CPR and they were at a camp that had the AED equipment needed to save his life.
“In 2007, not many places had AEDs,” he recalls. “We could have gone to a camp in Florida, or one in North Carolina. As it happens, we decided to go to a camp in Georgia, and that camp had an AED.”
Ironically, the agenda for the scouts’ camping trip had included renewing CPR certification for leaders like Lepervanche.
A Spokesperson for CPR and AEDs
A longtime advocate for wilderness survival training and CPR, Lepervanche’s brush with death inspired him to become a “poster boy” for SCA awareness and AEDs.
He’s posted a YouTube video about his rescue, and was featured on the cover of the American Heart Association’s 2007 annual report.
“I am very aware that I am leading my second life,” he says. “In 2008, I began working with the Boy Scouts and local doctors to get AEDs donated to area troops.”
Cardiac Science has worked with Lepervanche and the Boy Scouts of America on several of those donations as well as on training events. As vice president of program for the North Florida Council, Lepervanche makes sure the council holds monthly CPR and AED trainings.
While Florida is not yet among the states that require high schools to have AEDs and make CPR training a graduation requirement, Lepervanche is working to make that happen. He says he hopes that more people in his community will soon have the skills and awareness that enabled his scouting colleagues to save his life at a remote mountain campsite.