Dough Rough had pushed himself further before, so what was another flights of stairs?
The 60-year-old Kirkland resident and his wife, Lorraine, were exercising at the Bothell 24-Hour Fitness on April 17, and for Rough, who leads an active lifestyle, everything seemed normal.
Earlier in the year he had been exercising on a stair master machine and had made it up to 200 flights, but after 130 flights this time, he was feeling pretty winded.
Regardless, he decided to push for one more flight and wound up at 140 flights before calling it good.
Rough had contracted a bacterial infection about 11 years ago, which exclusively attacked his heart tissues. While it was eventually cured, it left him needing a heart valve replacement, which he received.
But the heart valve the surgeons implanted was a little too small, an issue that hadn’t presented any problems before, Rough said.
As he got off the stair master he went over to see how his wife was doing on the elliptical machines. He suggested they leave, he was driving, but she wanted to finish an episode of the show she was watching, so Rough hopped on an elliptical too.
“From my perspective, at this point, somebody turned off the lights,” he said.
A QUICK REACTION
A few machines away, Kirkland resident Steven Charie was also exercising when he saw Rough collapse halfway down the machine.
“Even though I had my headphones on I heard a noise,” Charie said.
Within a few seconds he saw people scuffling around Rough who was partially entangled in the machine.
Charie said he is required to take biennial CPR classes and almost immediately recognized the symptoms of cardiac arrest.
“His eyes were open and the whole body was stiff and he was breathing forcefully out of his mouth but he wasn’t responding,” Charie said.
Charie grabbed Rough to make sure if he fell he wouldn’t hurt himself.
About 15 seconds later Rough went entirely limp and collapsed.
“So I shouted to some of the people standing around and said we’ve got to get him off of this (elliptical machine) now,” Charie said.
Once they had laid Rough out, Charie said he didn’t feel any breath, so he started CPR compressions for more than two minutes until one of the 24 Hour Fitness staff located a defibrillator.
At this point, Charie said the situation was looking dire.
“I was positive that he was having a cardiac event and I was pretty positive that he wasn’t breathing,” he said. “He was dead. His face was blue, his lips were blue… I was thinking during compressions, wow, this guy could die right in front of me.”
Charie decided to use the defibrillator and hooked it up to Rough and followed the prompts on the machine.
After some processing, it told him to deliver a shock. As the jolt of electricity surged through his body, Rough arched his back and lifted off the ground and Charie afterwards started applying more chest compressions for around 40 seconds.
“Then he had a big exhale and he started breathing again and he came to,” Charie said.
“I remember at that point I saw Steven pull away ,” Rough said.
He came to and shortly afterwards, multiple EMTs were surrounding him, applying an IV bag and putting him in a stretcher before rushing him to the hospital.
At this point, Rough said he was fully cognitive.
As soon as the ambulance reached the hospital, Rough was rushed into surgery to look for any sign of damage or oxygen deprivation.
But thanks to Charie’s quick action, the doctors told Rough they didn’t find any sign of it.
“It was incredibly lucky that Steven was there,” Rough said. “I say it kind of facetiously but, you know, Steven and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ saved my life.”
“Dancing With the Stars” was the show his wife had wanted to finish watching at the time. If the couple had left earlier, Rough could have been driving when he went into cardiac arrest.
While Rough believes EMTs would have reached him in time to save his life, he said he likely would have suffered from oxygen deprivation if Charie hadn’t been there and acted so quickly.
“He literally got to me before I completely collapsed,” Rough said. “He essentially started CPR as soon as it was possible to start.”
A ROUGH THANK YOU
Charie acted quickly when no one else seemed to be doing anything, Rough said.
“You can train somebody all you want, but around 40 percent of the time they won’t actually do something in a crisis situation. It’s a combination of not only having the training but also be willing to do something in a crisis situation, that’s really important,” Rough said. “And that’s the thing that I’m so thankful to Steven for.”
Charie has stayed humble when talking to the Reporter last week, and said that it’s taking some time to get used to all the appreciation from the Rough, who arranged for him to be presented with the Kirkland Community Hero award from the city in May.
He was also presented with the Award of Exemplary Action by the Bothell Fire Department (BFD), Shoreline Fire Department and Woodinville Fire and Rescue and the CPR Life Saving Award metal from King County EMS and Shoreline Medic One in a ceremony on June 11 at Bothell Fire Station 42. The Award of Exemplary Action is the BFD’s highest civilian award, according to BFD public information officer Kirsten Clemens.
Charie said at the moment he just reacted and didn’t over think it at the time.
“I’m just happy that I jumped in and I couldn’t explain why and figured that if there’s no one else here, it’s me,” Charie said.
Rough is recovering from the cardiac event as well as from a recent surgery to fit and implant him with a properly sized heart valve, which turned out to be the culprit. He had overdone it exercising and too much pressure had built up on one side of the valve.
Rough and his wife are both grateful to Charie for acting when he did.
“He stepped forward without hesitation,” Rough said. “I’m really very thankful.”
Reporter Catherine Krummey contributed to this report.