An epic life saving tale

Reading the last TTP, I can’t let this event fall in the forgotten tales bag. I therefore reproduce the TTP article here, easily searchable in the BOCUS website… – Big Hopper-.


Brother “Swedish Navigator” – Gary Johnson – collapsed on the evening of June 8 th , following dinner on the first night of the Chesapeake Table Zafarrancho and USA Captain’s Meeting.. One moment he was deep in a conversation,, the next moment he was on the deck.. Gary’s life was saved that night by Chesapeake Brother Scott Rogers and A..JJ.. Eller,, wife of Chesapeake Brother Mark Eller..

Gary is a pretty tough old sailor,, but anyone who was there knows that it was the quick thinking and the truly professional application of CPR by A..JJ.. Eller and Scott Rogers that saved his life.. All of their training and experience was there for Gary when it was needed.. Scott is a retired fire fighter with EMT experience and is trained in CPR,, using it numerous times during his career..

Garry beginning of the party

A..JJ.. Eller is an operating room registered nurse who is also CPR trained,, although in her work she has not had to use CPR as much as Scott.. Sometimes CPR is the only option,, but it is not ideal.. In Scott’s experience,, when CPR is necessary the survival rate is fairly low,, sadly only about 5%% make it..

When Gary collapsed,, Scott and A..JJ.. sprang into action without a moment’s hesitation.. Initially Gary was breathing and had a pulse.. After a few minutes,, however,, Garry lost his pulse and Scott and E..JJ..,, working as an effective and highly skilled team,, administered CPR.. A..JJ.. was first to perform CPR, and after she tired,, Scott took over until the ambulance arrived.. Both made sure that Gary’s airway was clear to avoid choking,, with Craig Wright lending a hand.. Even though the hospital was close – by,, this event took place during Norfolk’s “HHarbor Fest””,, and many streets were closed or congested.. It took about 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive,, while Scott and A..JJ.. attended to Gary.. The EMT’s took over CPR,, administered two shocks by AED (Automated External Defibrillator)),, and wheeled Gary to the ambulance,, where he was stabilized and then taken to the hospital..

When asked about how he felt prior to collapsing,, Gary said he had no warning at all – no shortness of breath or feeling dizzy.. He had never been told that his medical history would indicate a cardiac event could happen.. Thankfully,, subsequent testing found no arterial blockage or permanent damage,, but instead pointed to Atrial Fibrillation (AAFIB)) as the cause.. Gary has no memory of his collapse or the next four days in the hospital..

Gary’s son Jimmy came from Hawaii to be with him during his lengthy Norfolk hospital stay.. There were some speed bumps along the way,, but the “SSwedish Navigator”” is now back at his home in Cocoa Beach,, Florida,, with close friends nearby and receiving great care.. Gary is as feisty as ever and just celebrated his 80 th birthday on August 21 st . He now has a pacemaker which monitors his heart’s rhythm,, and if AFIB is detected,, it administers a mild pulse to shock his heart back into normal rhythm..

One take – away from this event is that if an AED were readily available,, it could have been used effectively to stabilize Gary rather than administering CPR.. National Captain Scott Ripley has taken this to heart and provisioned both his home and boat with AEDs.. Other Brothers should seriously consider purchasing an AED as a cheap insurance policy..

We are all grateful to A..JJ.. and Scott,, the ambulance paramedics,, and the doctors and nurses of Norfolk’s first class cardiac hospital,, for Gary’s recovery.. Lastly,, but most importantly,, the members of the Chesapeake Table,, too many to name,, visited,, encouraged,, and looked after Gary for the entire time he was in the hospital and rehabilitation center.. For those of us who could only call and send cards,, it was good to know that Brothers and their wives were there for him.. Gary and the Savannah Table can’t thank you enough for his incredible “eearly”” birthday present!!

Swedish Navigator’s 80th Birthday

Joe Citarella – USA Int’l Vigie & John Byrne, Captain Savannah Table