Quick action saves dad's life

Updated:Jun 15,2015

Smith familyFather’s Day has extra-special meaning for Peyton Smith’s family this year. The 34 year old father of three suffered a cardiac arrest just three months ago and the outcome could have been very different if family members hadn’t known what to do.

Family is really important to the Smiths of Redondo Beach, CA, and on March 20 Peyton decided to take the day off work because relatives were visiting from the East Coast. He was in the kitchen with his two and half year old daughter making waffles when he collapsed. Fortunately, she took it upon herself to alert their guests. “Daddy’s sleeping in the kitchen,” Ainslee told her aunt Lauren Tregger. While Lauren dialed 911 her friend Alexander DeLuca began CPR.

“The adrenalin kicked in and I started pushing hard and fast on his chest,” Alexander said. Within minutes the fire department was there to take over. Although he is an ER nurse and knew what to do, Alexander was distraught thinking he had not done enough for his friend. But in fact, he had been able to reestablish a faint pulse with CPR and then EMTs used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to strengthen Peyton’s heartbeat. Alexander says, “It’s so simple. The basics saved his life.”

A barrage of tests at the hospital revealed nothing unusual. Peyton had suffered an idiopathic cardiac arrest, a rare and frightening condition because there are no warning signs and no explanation. To avoid another event, a defibrillator was implanted in his chest to monitor his heartbeat. At the time, Peyton was in good health and training for the half-marathon Tough Mudder Mud Run obstacle course. He is currently rebuilding his stamina and hopes to return to marathon training again soon.

Peyton’s wife Lindsay volunteers at the nearby school attended by their sons Jameson and Liam. She was at Washington Elementary when her husband collapsed. When Principal Kristen Holm learned how important CPR was to Peyton’s survival, the school planned a Parent Heart Health Night on June 10 in his honor -- with a major focus on CPR training. Kristen worked with the Beach Cities Health District, UCLA Health and the American Heart Association (AHA) on the event, which included primary care physicians and cardiologists providing free blood pressure screenings, as well as answering participants’ heart health questions.

A close-knit school of 720 students, Washington Elementary already had a strong association with the AHA. Students rally around a cause whenever needed and CPR is one of their favorites. Last January they raised $18,575 for Jump Rope For Heart during their “Save 100 Hearts” campaign.

“We are inspired to do great things,” Kristen commented, “Peyton is a walking miracle and seeing him at the event was great motivation to continue to do so.”