Paul Huff’s heart pumps blood through his veins because a
combination of circumstances helped save his life.
“Talk about the stars lining up,” Huff said. “I really lucked
out. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Huff, 62, went into cardiac arrest on Jan. 7 while participating
in CSU’s Adult Fitness Program. The program promotes physical
activity to adults and provides training for students in the health
and exercise science department.
“We are aware (medical problems) could happen anytime,” said
Sheri Linnell, the director of the Adult Fitness Program. “We stay
prepared and all the students are trained in CPR, first aid and
Linnell said the program has been in place for more than 25
years and there have been four cardiac arrest incidents. Three of
those adults survived and one did not.
Huff did survive his brush with death. He had spent the day
baby-sitting his 5-month-old granddaughter and missed his regular
exercise time. He decided to attend the evening session to jog his
usual five miles around the track in the South College Gym.
“My body shut down,” Huff said. “I went face down on the
Huff doesn’t remember attending the program that evening, and
his wife and others have had to fill in the blanks. He has lost six
full days of memory. Another adult warming up on the track saw Huff
fall down onto his face and went for help.
He found Adam Klatskin and Mark Wisthoff, two students helping
with the program. Klatskin usually worked the evening group and
Huff was an unknown. Wisthoff was filling in for another supervisor
who was on vacation. Both Klatskin and Wisthoff were trained in
CPR, and their fast reaction saved Huff’s life.
“I was gone,” Huff said. “They brought me back.”
Klatskin and Wisthoff used a defibrillator to revive Huff after
CPR wasn’t working. Klatskin, a firefighter and an emergency
medical technician in Weld County for more than two years, pulled
the AED from the box, automatically alerting the CSU Police
CSU installed automated external defibrillators around campus in
August. According to the Environmental Health Services Web site,
defibrillators allow minimally trained people to respond to cardiac
emergencies. AED’s are the size of a lunch box and have the ability
to deliver “brief but powerful” electric stimulation, according to
Each defibrillator costs the university about $3,000, said Ken
Quintana, a safety officer for EHS. This cost includes the unit,
mounting and the alarm, he said. Although he has not had any
complaints personally, he has heard that a few people have
questioned the costs.
“We weigh the budget concerns with safety and the well-being of
others,” Quintana said. “The ability to save one life is offsetting
Klatskin also agreed that the defibrillators are vital and price
“You can’t put a price on saving someone’s life,” Klatskin said.
“Who knows what the outcome could have been without the AED.”
Klatskin wants the public to know of the need for CPR
“There are people out there that kind of know what to do but
they aren’t sure,” Klatskin said. “It definitely makes a
For Paul Huff it made a big difference. When Klatskin and
Wisthoff reached Hoff, he was bleeding from an injury to his face
from the fall, was turning blue and had no vital signs. When the
students used the AED, he gasped and the color started to come back
into his face.
“They jump-started me,” Huff said. “I was so lucky.”
After being revived, Huff was sent to the hospital and
eventually underwent quadruple bypass surgery. The doctors
installed a pacemaker and an internal defibrillator, the
combination of which should be able to start his heart
automatically if Huff has another heart attack.
“My doctor told me that only 5 percent of the people that have
what I had survive,” Huff said. “And that only 1 percent survive
without brain damage. I am so fortunate.”
Huff is currently undergoing rehab at the Poudre Valley Health
System Harmony Campus, 2121 E. Harmony Road. He plans on going for
three days a week for 36 sessions. He walks on treadmills, rides
bicycles and walks around the neighborhood in hopes of regaining
“I hope to be back to CSU in a month,” Huff said. “I probably
won’t be jogging though. I need to get my heart muscles back up
Huff, a retired elementary school principle and administrator,
has kept score for the CSU men’s basketball team for the past 33
years. He has changed his eating habits and hopes to be in his back
yard by spring, working on his railroad models.
“My goal is to be back to where I was by May,” Huff said.
Huff knows the only reason he is alive and breathing is because
of the fast actions of Klatskin and Wisthoff.
“Thanks for saving my life,” Huff said in response to the
Defibrillation Statistical Survival Rates
In 1 minute 90 Percent
In 4 minutes 70 Percent
In 10 minutes 2 percent