Although there are different schools of thought on the effectiveness of CPR, Robin Christensen would tell you it’s the reason he’s still alive.
Robin, who suffered a heart attack, was brought back to life by Kevin Mitchell, a Gulf Power Substation tech who works out of the Pine Forest office.
For Kevin’s efforts, Gulf Power presented him with its Power of Life award, which is presented based on actions taken to save or attempting to save a life. Kevin is the 29th Gulf Power employee to receive the award since the award began 15 years ago.
Read as Kevin describes in his own words what happened that day:
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“Me and my dad are best friends. We work together in my race shop, preparing my car for local dirt-track racing. On Jan. 19, I was working in the shop and my dad was in the house taking a breather.
A friend of mine, Robin, also owns a race car and was working on it. It was one of the first hot days we had. He came in and said, “I think I’m getting too old for this stuff.” He was breathing hard and he sat down in the chair and said, “I think I’m going to pass out.”
I went to him and was going to give him a bottle of water but I noticed his eyes were rolled back in his head and he was starting to shake. I thought he’d had a seizure.
I called 911 and while the operator was getting the location, I ran to my house about 100 feet away and got Dad. When I got back, Robin was slumped in the chair, his eyes were wide open and he wasn’t moving.
He was blue, he had no pulse and he was not breathing. He was dead. I’m trying to stay calm and go through my checklist.
My dad grabbed his shoulders and I grabbed his legs and we got him to the ground. I double checked his airway and, with the operator on the speaker phone, and I immediately started doing chest compressions on him.
We had just done rescue training at Gulf Power and they said, “No rescue breaths.” Robin is about 225 pounds. He’s about 60 years old, he runs every day, doesn’t use salt in his diet and is in fairly good shape. But as I was doing the chest compressions, I could feel the cartilage breaking in his sternum.
I was starting to get a little emotional. You’re looking at a friend and his eyes are open and he’s blue and I’m thinking, “oh my gosh, he’s dead.” If he hadn’t survived, it would have been mentally tough on me.
He came back; he started gasping for air and he got a little bit of a pulse, so I stopped. I didn’t want to disrupt that.
The paramedics arrived and they put an AED machine on him. They put the pads on his arms and legs and when they zapped him, his arms and legs jumped a good foot off the ground. They did it twice, then started administering drugs.
I never felt like I had saved his life. I just helped him get stable. They got him in the ambulance and he had a pulse, but he lost it and they shocked him again with the paddles and revived him again.
When we got to the hospital, the doctor said he had to immediately go to surgery because in five minutes, he’ll be dead. He had two blocked arteries in his main artery. It’s often called “The widow maker.”
When the surgery was over, the doctor came out and said he would have 100 percent recovery.
Dad said, “Son, if you hadn’t been there, he would have died because I didn’t know what to do.” His wife hugged me and said, “You will forever be my angel.”
It feels good to know I was able to save a friend’s life. I’m never going to complain about going to CPR training again. When I was doing chest compressions on Robin, it felt natural. The training works.”
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Christensen, 59, said he remember telling Kevin he didn’t feel good, then doesn’t remember anything until four days later.
“I feel so much gratitude. What Kevin did was unbelievable,” he said. “He just jumped in and went to work and I’m alive because of it. He’s a hometown hero.”