Woodland Hills man who had heart attack while driving saved by good Samaritans who knew CPR

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Saturday, June 8, 2019
Local man survives heart attack due to bystanders who knew CPR
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Knowing bystander CPR can help save lives. One local man, who had a heart attack while driving on the freeway, survived because good Samaritans on the scene knew how to perform CPR.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Heart attacks can happen any time, any place. Are you prepared to help save a life?

For National CPR week, local hospitals are offering Sidewalk CPR lessons because research shows it saves lives.

Ron Costello knows that all too well.

Costello, who is from Woodland Hills, was driving on the 101 Freeway when he lost consciousness.

"I wound up crashing into the center divider having a massive heart attack," he said.

Two drivers pulled over, broke his window, and performed CPR on Costello before paramedics arrived.

"Chances are I would have probably died right there on the side of the road," he said.

Costello, 52, was told he had an artery that was completely blocked.

He needed two stents.

Today, he's paying it forward, learning CPR from the Mili Levy, RN, the Providence Tarzana Medical Center nurse who helped with his procedure.

"CPR saved him," Levy said.

For National CPR week, Providence Tarzana Medical Center partnered with the West Valley Family YMCA to teach bystanders how to do hands-only CPR.

Brent Finlay of the West Valley Family YMCA said, "You have to be thinking about the steps that you learned but what could be more important than saving the life of a loved one, a child."

Research from the American Heart Association shows, performing CPR doubles or even triples a cardiac arrest victim's chance of survival. Studies show the more people who know how to do it, the greater the survival rates. The first thing you do: call 911 or ask someone else to do it.

Place your hands on top of each other in between the breasts and start pushing down.

"You want to go at least 100 beats a minute," Levy said, "We like to use the song 'Stayin' Alive.'"

Hand placement is important. Speed is important, too.

But the biggest mistake people make is not pushing down hard enough.

Levy said, "You really have to push one-and-a-half to two inches deep."

Providence Medical Centers are among some of the other local hospitals that will offer bystander CPR lessons during National CPR Week.

It only takes 90 seconds to learn how to save a life. It's a skill everyone should have, because you never know where you'll be where those skills will be needed.

Costello said, "Thanks to people knowing CPR, it gave me an opportunity to watch my family grow, watch my kids grow up so I'm very, very lucky."