By Brianna Kelly, American Red Cross
On December 4, 2021, Steve Cline died. Then, his whole life changed.
Steve and his wife Annette were sitting next to each other watching TV on the evening of December 4. They didn’t always watch TV together, sometimes Annette would be in another room. That evening fate just so happened to have her sitting on the couch with her beloved husband when he began suffering cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
Because Annette was next to Steve, she immediately realized something was wrong, and that he needed help. She called 9-1-1, and San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dispatcher Chris Cook calmly walked her through what she needed to do next. Weighing about 105 pounds, Annette worried that she wouldn’t be able to lift Steve, at 210 pounds, off the couch and down to the floor to begin chest compressions. She gathered her strength and despite the shock of seeing her husband slipping away, Annette was able to move him to the floor, and began performing CPR compressions.
“That evening, I wasn’t planning to die,” says Steve. “I’m so grateful to Annette. The first minutes of CPR are crucial.”
Six minutes later, first responders arrived and assumed Steve’s care, providing additional CPR compressions and utilizing an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in a heroic effort to bring Steve back to life. Over the course of the ordeal, including his time in the hospital, Steve received 43 minutes of CPR and coded three times.
Incredibly, Steve has made a full recovery and has no long-term medical damage from his experience. He is grateful for his wife’s efforts, and those of first responders and doctors who brought him back to life — again, and again, and again. “It’s a complete miracle,” says Steve.
The Cline’s experience inspired them to take a CPR/AED/First Aid class with the American Red Cross so they could be better equipped to handle such situations in the future.
“I want to be so prepared,” says Annette. “The training was so good. The instructor was great, and the equipment was great.”
The Clines know that getting trained in CPR may not be at the top of people’s to-do list, but they believe it should be. They hope to encourage as many people to get trained as possible. Steve puts it simply: “Go do it. You don’t have time to take the class when someone is dying in front of you.”
Annette credits Red Cross training for giving her a greater sense of confidence should another emergency happen in the future. “If I was in the situation again, I absolutely feel more confident…I think we all have a hero in us. Somebody can take that action to save a life.”
Steve and Annette are writing a book about their experience called: And Then December 4th I Died. With a new chance at life, Steve has gained a unique perspective and appreciation for living life to its fullest. “I’m lucky I was able to come back to life. I implore you to do those things you say you’re going to do,” says Steve. “Get committed to doing the things you always wanted to do.”
Knowing first-hand the lifesaving impact of CPR, Steve and Annette are passionate in their calls for people to receive CPR and AED training. “I live in gratitude every day, and it’s all because of CPR,” says Steve.
To learn more about the importance of CPR training and register for a Red Cross CPR/AED/First Aid course, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.