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Everyday Heroes: Quick actions save a life during bike ride in Cedar Rapids

Terry Whaley (from left), Jim McLaughlin and Jim Bernstein pose for a selfie to celebrate McLaughlin's first bike ride after suffering a heart attack in July. Whaley called 911 that day, then stayed on the line with McLaughlin's wife as Lynda Ficken Haddy performed CPR. (Submitted photo)
Terry Whaley (from left), Jim McLaughlin and Jim Bernstein pose for a selfie to celebrate McLaughlin's first bike ride after suffering a heart attack in July. Whaley called 911 that day, then stayed on the line with McLaughlin's wife as Lynda Ficken Haddy performed CPR. (Submitted photo)
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Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on Everyday Heroes in Eastern Iowa. They will be honored Nov. 1 at the Everyday Heroes Breakfast Awards Ceremony at the The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7225 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Tickets are available at hooplatix.com.

 

It started as an ordinary bike ride.

Several members of the Hawkeye Bicycle Association met July 13 at Greene Square in Cedar Rapids. They planned to ride the Sutliff Loop. Lynda Ficken Haddy started the trip near the front of the pack, but later fell back, joining Terry Whaley and Jim McLaughlin.

She thinks about that decision often.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Haddy says.

The three were several miles from Lisbon when Jim reported feeling dizzy. They rested a few minutes, then got back on their bikes. A few minutes later, McLaughlin decided he wasn’t going to finish. He called his wife for a ride, then collapsed.

Haddy’s years of CPR training kicked in, and she immediately started compressions. Whaley used his cellphone to call 911, then picked up McLaughlin’s dropped phone. He stayed on the line with McLaughlin’s wife as Haddy continued CPR.

“I think it’s one of those things that stays burned in your brain,” Whaley says. “You don’t have time to think — you just react.”

“I wasn’t panicking, not then,” says Haddy, who has received CPR training regularly for 20 years. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m just going to do what I’m trained to do.’ ”

Everyone later would learn that McLaughlin had what’s referred to as a widow maker heart attack. This term is used because the left main coronary and/or the left anterior descending supply blood to large areas of the heart. If these arteries are abruptly and completely occluded, it causes a massive heart attack. From the minute a widow maker heart attack hits, survival time ranges from minutes to several hours. Instead, McLaughlin was treated and released less than three days later.

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“Lynda and Terry’s quick actions saved my life,” McLaughlin wrote in his nomination letter. “I would not have survived without their quick actions.”

“This changed my life,” Haddy says. “I met Jim for the first time that day. Because of what happened, I will always have this connection with him.”

Whaley has known Jim for years. The friends have gone on many bike rides together, including RAGBRAI.

“I don’t feel like a hero,” Whaley says. “I did what anyone else would do in that situation.”

Everyday Heroes

Lynda Ficken Haddy, of Cedar Rapids, is a medical secretary at UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital. Terry Whaley, of Marion, is retired.

They and others will be honored Nov. 1 at the Everyday Heroes Breakfast Awards Ceremony at the The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7225 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Tickets are available at hooplatix.com.

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