My Story: Roxy Burnside

Roxy Burnside knows firsthand how immediate bystander CPR and AED’s accessible in public places can save lives.  It saved hers. Roxy’s survival story from a heart attack began the evening of November 20 in Fargo at the Holiday Lights parade.    Burnside was dressed in an elf costume, handing out candy and walking with co-workers alongside her company’s float.

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“I was having a blast. It was a beautiful night, and we had walked all the way from Moorhead,” she said. “Just before turning onto Broadway, I got really dizzy and short of breath.”

“All of a sudden, I saw a flash of white light and thought ‘Oh no, I’m going down.’ ”

Burnside collapsed in the street.  Two bystanders came to her aid, calling 9-1-1 and began performing CPR.   A police officer, posted a half-block away, heard the call about someone in distress and ran over.  The police officer retrieved an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the MAT bus station, a block and half away, and shocked Burnside’s heart back to normal rhythm before the ambulance arrived. 

Doctors placed two stents in her blocked arteries the next day, and the 62-year-old Burnside, went home from the hospital on Thanksgiving night.  A week later, Roxy was back to work. 

Roxy feels lucky to have received both CPR and an AED shock shortly after having a heart attack.  Everything transpired just as it should in order to save her life.  Without it, she likely would not have been around to celebrate Christmas with her two children and four grandchildren.

“I’m strong supporter of the American Heart Association’s advocacy work to teach all high school students CPR before graduation” said Burnside.  “Teenagers are everywhere in the community -   at the mall, working at the gas station and restaurants, or at community activities and sporting events”  “The lifeline skill of CPR can save a life, including that of a family member”  

 Before she suffered cardiac arrest by ventricular fibrillation on Nov. 20, 2012, Roxy’s only risk factor was a family history of heart disease.  Otherwise, she was healthy.  Roxy’s father suffered a heart attack and collapsed while at the sales barn.  No one performed CPR before the ambulance arrived and he died.  Her son was devastated as he had learned CPR in Boy Scouts and felt he could have saved his grandfather had he been there. 

Not everyone who receives bystander CPR survives, but it doubles or triples the chance of survival.

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