May 26, 2023
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Bill Gusler of New Bloomfield, Pa., is grateful to be alive after experiencing cardiac arrest in November 2022, and today, on Save-A-Life Day, Bill was reunited with the first responders and UPMC Williamsport hospital staff who saved his life.
“I just want to thank everyone for what they’ve done as they have obviously saved my life,” Bill said while speaking to the crowd of responders present at the Save-A-Life event at UPMC Williamsport.
Bill was in Williamsport for a billiards tournament when he collapsed while with a friend. His friend immediately started CPR and instructed bystanders to call 911 for help. Within minutes, responders from Williamsport Bureau of Police, Williamsport Bureau of Fire, and EMS clinicians from Susquehanna EMS (SREMS) were on scene.
“Bill was in full cardiac arrest when our team arrived, with his friend and other bystanders providing aid and CPR,” said Mark Trueman, deputy chief, SREMS. “Our team was able to get his heart beating again in the field and once he was stable, they immediately transported him to UPMC Williamsport for emergency care.”
Bill was placed into a medically induced coma for three days. Doctors estimated that Bill’s heart wasn’t functioning properly for three to five minutes when the cardiac arrest started. Once awake, Bill had no idea where he was at or why he was there. His clinical team, family members, and others helped bring him up to speed on what he’d been through.
The father of three and grandfather of three has never had major health problems, so his heart issues came as a surprise. Bill spent five days at UPMC Williamsport and received follow-up care closer to home at the UPMC Heart & Vascular Institute in Mechanicsburg, Pa. After a few months of down-time, he’s now back to working and living an active life.
In addition to reuniting with all the teams who helped save his life, Bill was provided the special honor of presenting each of the individuals involved in his care in the field with a “SCA Save” commendation bar. Commendation bars are awarded to responders for acts in the line of duty that led to the successful rescue in a sudden cardiac arrest requiring resuscitation.
“I never expected any of this to happen, but I’m so grateful to be here today to be able to share my appreciation with you in person,” Bill said. “I hope my story is one that encourages those who helped me in my time of need realize the impact of their work and inspires those who hear it to seek basic first aid and CPR training. You never know when you’ll need it or who you’ll help, but knowing you’re ready should something happen makes all the difference.”
Bill’s message is one UPMC hopes connects with the community.
“Bill is very lucky as not many people survive what he experienced. He’s here today, and healthy, in large part due to the quick actions of his friend and the other bystanders. While it was only a matter of minutes before the trained responders and EMS clinicians were at his side providing care, those minutes before they were on scene are critical and have a huge impact,” said Trueman. “That’s the main thing I hope others take away from today’s event and Bill’s story – how important it is that as many people as possible in our communities are prepared for emergencies and have some basic training on what to do to help others.”
UPMC recently launched Minutes Matter, a community outreach program focused on providing community members with access to basic emergency information and education about lifesaving interventions to promote effective bystander response. Minutes Matter empowers bystanders by not only teaching how to respond to common, life-threatening emergencies related to opioid overdose, mental health crisis, cardiac arrest, and uncontrolled bleeding, but also how to act and use an AED, Narcan, and a tourniquet, as well as how to administer effective CPR.
For more information on how you can get involved with UPMC’s Minutes Matter, visit MinutesMatter.UPMC.com.
Bill Gusler, pictured center, poses with the team of responders and clinicians who helped save his life after he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in Williamsport.
Bill and the EMS clinicians from Susquehanna Regional EMS share smiles during the Save-A-Life Day reunion event at UPMC Williamsport.
Bill embraces Alex Karney, paramedic, Susquehanna Regional EMS, as he presents him with his “SCA Save” commendation bar. Alex was the lead EMS provider for Bill’s incident.