Feb 222004
Authors: Brittany Burke

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

with defibrillators.”

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

the site.

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

the cost.”


Klatskin also agreed that the defibrillators are vital and price

is irrelevant.

“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

his strength.

“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

students’ efforts.

Defibrillation Statistical Survival Rates

In 1 minute 90 Percent

In 4 minutes 70 Percent

In 10 minutes 2 percent



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