Viktor Glukhovskyy was a healthy 78-year-old Pleasanton resident who walked five miles a day with his wife. But after breakfast one day in late August, without warning, he fell unconscious, having suffered sudden cardiac arrest -- his heart had malfunctioned and stopped beating.
"We were confused ... He had no problems," said Nadiya Tarasova, his wife of 42 years who remembered hearing his tea cup fall to the floor that morning when he lost consciousness.
Through the quick actions of Tarasova and Pleasanton police Officer Alex Koumiss, who was on patrol nearby, Glukhovskyy has defied formidable odds, and is now back to his (almost) former self.
"As a police officer, we don't always get this outcome," Koumiss said last week when reunited with Glukhovskyy during a meeting at Pleasanton Police Department. "These are the stories that stick with me."
After her husband fell unconscious, Tarasova immediately called 9-1-1. Over the phone, the operator told her to put Glukhovskyy on the floor, and then proceeded to instruct her in performing CPR.
"I don't know how I put him on the floor," said Tarasova, a former journalist from Russia. Her husband used to work as a policeman in Ukraine. It must have been the adrenaline, she added.
A two-minute drive away, Officer Koumiss was on patrol near the intersection of First Street and Kottinger Drive when he received a "code blue" medical call -- meaning the person in question was unconscious and not breathing. It was 8:04 a.m., and by chance, the fire department, normally the first ones to arrive in a situation like this, was changing patrol at that very moment, making Koumiss the closest responder.
So he rushed over to the Stanley Junction Senior Apartments on Stanley Boulevard, where Glukhovskyy and Tarasova resided. Since it was a medical call, when he arrived on-scene, he brought his automated external defibrillator (AED). Every Pleasanton patrol car is outfitted with an AED, which allows responders to deliver an electric shock to the heart of someone who has just experienced sudden cardiac arrest.
Time is of the essence in these situations -- according to the American Heart Association, for every minute a normal heartbeat isn't restored, a cardiac arrest victim's chances for survival drop by 7-10%. Doctors would later tell Glukhovskyy's family that the particular type of cardiac arrest he had suffered only has a 5% survival rate.
When Koumiss arrived on-scene, it didn't look promising, he said. Glukhovskyy wasn't breathing and had no pulse. In his 19 years of policing, Koumiss had seen many of these calls, and more often than not, the outcome wasn't good.
But the officer could tell by the color of Glukhovskyy's skin that the incident was recent, so he acted quickly. He administered the AED shock and began CPR at 8:07 a.m., three minutes within his time of dispatch.
Five minutes later, the fire department arrived to relieve Koumiss. Soon, with the advent of the fire department's more advanced medical equipment, Glukhovskyy began breathing on his own and regained a pulse, though he was still unconscious. An ambulance brought him to Stanford-ValleyCare Medical Center, where he would remain for 11 days.
Now Glukhovskyy feels "good," he said in Russian. His mental functioning is normal, with no memory loss or personality change. He plays chess and walks two to three miles a day with his wife -- not quite at five yet, but they're working on it.
"It's amazing," Glukhovskyy said. "A police officer saved the life of a police officer from another country."
The quick response and AED use was a strong contributor to saving his life. Koumiss, though, credits Tarasova as being "the real hero in this event," he said.
"Because Viktor's wife immediately called 9-1-1 and did not waste any precious time is a big reason Viktor is still alive," Koumiss said.
He also thanked the Pleasanton police department for equipping all patrol vehicles with an AED and training all officers in using the device. "Without my departmental provided training and equipment, this likely would not have had the same desirable outcome," he said.