Irondequoit, N.Y.— For 41-year-old David DeMersman, it was a supposed to be a typical workout. The Irondequoit father of four started attending CrossFit Boomtown in June and had lost 25 pounds since then.
On Wednesday, October 10, DeMersman was warming up for his workout by jogging around the parking lot when he felt ill.
“You could see by the look on his face that something was just not right,” says Heidi Aberi, a fellow gym member.
DeMersman sat down on the coach and Meghan Kelly, another Crossfit Boomtown member went to get him water. It was at that moment when DeMersman went into cardiac arrest.
“He was not responsive,” says Kelly. “As far as we know, we couldn’t find a heart rate and there was no pulse.”
The members jumped into action. Aberi dialed 911. Kelly tried to get in touch with DeMersman’s family. Others tried to reach the gym’s owners. A nurse and a nursing student who are also gym members started performing CPR. An off-duty police officer also helped.
According to his family, there was about a 15 minute period from when Aberi dialed 911 and when emergency crews were able to restart DeMersman’s heart on the third try using a defibrillator.
“If it wasn't for early CPR, the time between the call to 911 and the time ambulance got there, he would have been dead,” says Mike Moulton, DeMersman’s brother-in-law.
Moulton says he and his family are eternally grateful for the members at Crossfit Boomtown and everything they did to try and save DeMersman. His family considers them heroes.
“It just makes you know that God exists and people are there at the right place at the right time,” Moulton says. “They were prepared to do what they were doing.”
According to Moulton, DeMersman should make a full recovery. On Monday, he underwent surgery to get an implantable defibrillator.
His workout friends say they hope to see DeMersman back at the gym soon. They don’t consider themselves heroes. They say they just did what DeMersman would have done for them in the same situation. If anything, they hope that people learn the value of knowing CPR from this experience.
“I would recommend anyone [to learn],” says Aberi. “It's offered through your community education programs in just about every town. It's just a couple hours of your day and it can save a life.”