INDIANAPOLIS – It’s been one year since Rollin "Mac" McClanahan "died" at the Fiddler’s Three Restaurant in Shelbyville, Indiana. Thanks to quick response of friends and paramedics who had a portable defibrillator, Mac is alive and well today, and on a mission to help his community improve its ability to resuscitate other victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
On July 8, 1998, Mac was dining out with his wife, Ruth, when he stood up to greet some friends and then collapsed without warning. Two friends, Stan Spreckelmeyer and Sgt. John R. Wheeler, recognized that Mac was in cardiac arrest and immediately started CPR, while restaurant personnel called 911. Paramedics Ty Barnett and Doug Lutes arrived three minutes later and used their defibrillator to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm. Mac was transported to W. S. Major Hospital in Shelbyville and later transferred to St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, where he received an implantable defibrillator to prevent future emergencies.
Now Mac is giving back to his community by raising money to purchase automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. This Tuesday, June 29, Mac and his wife returned to the Fiddler’s Three Restaurant to host a fund-raising dinner. Friends and townspeople flocked to the restaurant to celebrate Mac’s life and to support his lifesaving mission.
"Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack," said McClanahan. "It’s much worse. Without warning, the electrical signals that pump the heart go haywire and the heart stops beating. The victim passes out almost immediately. On July 8, 1998, this happened to me. Thanks to many great people and their professional training, I am here today."
Because Mac was in town, paramedics were close and their response time brief. In rural areas, the county sheriff will likely be first on the scene. "For this reason, all county sheriff cars need to be equipped with AED units. I’m trying to give something back to our community to show how grateful I am to still be alive."
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department is one of several police agencies in Indiana that is equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) through a research study on police use of defibrillators, being conducted by Krannert Institute of Cardiology, Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
According to William Groh, M.D., principal investigator, study results to date suggest that cardiac arrest victims treated first by police equipped with AEDs are eight times more likely to survive, compared with those treated first by paramedics. The higher survival rates have been attributed to the fact that police often can get to the scene more rapidly than traditional emergency responders due to their presence in the community.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department initially received funding from the Medtronic Foundation Heart Rescue Foundation to purchase 15 AEDs. However, Mac’s mission is to secure funds to buy six additional units to ensure that all police vehicles throughout the county are equipped with AEDs. The units cost about $3,000 each and McClanahan has raised $14,000 to date.
"It’s been very gratifying," said Mac as he received his guests and their generous contributions, smiling through tears of joy. "I want the people to know how much this means to me and our community."
It certainly means a lot to the Sheriff’s Department, according to Shelby County Sheriff Tom De Baun. "Mac McClanahan is a super man with a good heart. He is really helping us out. We continue to add people and need new devices. The money was not in our budget and we would not be able to do it without him. I would hate to send a car out there and have it show up on the scene without a device. I think he’s an angel."