Everyday Hero Uses CPR to Save a Stranger (Videos)

Thursday was Michael Liu’s 32nd birthday, which by most accounts isn’t a big deal- except this one almost didn’t happen. 

Liu of Rockville suffered cardiac arrest as he jogged pushing his son in a stroller in the College Garden Park in Rockville May 14 and it was only by the help of an “Everyday Hero” that he didn’t die there. Thursday, Liu met that hero, Heather VonKurtze and her 9-year-old daughter Alexandra Hofacre in a ceremony at the Travilah Fire station in Rockville.

Hear this remarkable story in this video and learn more below:

“I am so touched to experience and know that I have a second chance at life with my family,” Liu said.

It was about 6:30 p.m. when Liu, a marathon runner, took his 2-year-old son Nathan for a jog. As he ran through the park, Liu collapsed. VonKurtze and her daughter were nearby.

“My first thought was he needed some assistance,” she said recalling the event. After calling 911 VonKurtze followed the dispatcher Jeff Purcell’s instructions on hands-only CPR, a method using rapid chest compressions on a victim but no ventilation. Alexandra helped flag down the ambulance. VonKurtze’s action is credited with the happy outcome.

Paramedics used a automatic electronic defibrillator four times on Liu before he was stable enough to transport to a local hospital where he stayed in a coma for ten days. Now, fully recovered, with a daughter due to be born in just a few months, Liu said he has now taken CPR training so he would be prepared to save someone else’s life.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Battalion Chief for Emergency Medical Services Alan Butsch said Montgomery County for the past six months has made a push for the general public to use hands-only CPR which emphasizes using 100 chest  compressions per minute without stopping more than ten seconds at a time. Hands-only CPR uses no mouth-to-mouth breathing. Butsch said MCFRS has a 30 percent save rate using high performance CPR, a technique where his rescue workers concentrate on compressions primarily with ventilation. That’s up from a save rate before this compression emphasis of just 9 percent.

“My training was about ten years ago and I was concerned I wouldn’t do it right,  but in that situation when someone needs help and I was the one on-hand to be the one to contribute,” VonKurtze said. “This is a miracle….to know I played any part to know he is here on his 32nd birthday and experience his daughter being born in phenomenal.”

Check out CPR training sites here.

View the ceremony here:

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Krista Brick

About Krista Brick

Krista Brick is a multi-media journalist with Montgomery Community Media.


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