71-year-old credits 'pickleball heroes' for saving life
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Sequim pickleball players Dave Herndon, left, and Bob Sester are credited with saving the life fellow player Ronnie Coleman, seated, who collapsed while playing the game on the courts of Sequim Community School.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — When Ronnie Coleman, 71, of Sequim went to his regular pickleball practice session at the Sequim Community School courts Tuesday, he sat on the sidelines, watching two men he calls his heroes.

“These guys are the men of the hour,” he said, indicating fellow players Dave Herndon, 62, and Bob Sester, 66, of Sequim.

“These are wonderful people,” he said.

He credits the two with saving his life just over two weeks ago.

On Aug. 18, Coleman was putting away his pickleball equipment and already was thinking about his next stop for the day, a trip to the barber shop.

“I don't remember anything else,” Coleman said.

Coleman toppled from the bench.

Herndon's wife saw Coleman collapse and called for the two men.

Herndon, a retired paramedic, and Sester, a retired firefighter, sprang into action.

They discovered Coleman's heart had stopped and began CPR within moments.

“The amazing thing to me is when everything falls into place,” Herndon said later, recalling that day.

He ticked off the many things that went right:

-- Two people who knew CPR, Herndon and Sester, were able to begin working on Coleman within seconds of his collapse.

-- Clallam County Fire District No. 3 paramedics were on scene within minutes and were able to get a pulse quickly.

-- Coleman was transported to a hospital where doctors were able to immediately begin the exact treatment he needed.

-- Because of his physical fitness, Coleman was fit enough to bounce back quickly.

Coleman, who has had two heart bypasses in the past and passed a stress test two weeks earlier, walked out of Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton three days after his collapse with a pacemaker and implanted defibrillator.

Herndon and Sester said they were amazed and pleased by Coleman's recovery.

After years on the job, both had seen less-than-ideal outcomes for those whom they treated.

“I called the next day to see if he was still with us,” Herndon said.

The nurse offered to put Coleman on the phone, he said.

The rescue was unlike anything the two retired professionals had experienced.

“With someone off the street you don't know, it can be special because of their circumstances,” Sester said.

When it's someone you know, a friend, it becomes something entirely different, he said.

Since that day, several other members of the pickleball group have taken CPR classes, and Herndon and Sester have urged more people to take classes.

Several organizations in the North Olympic Peninsula offer regular CPR classes, the two men noted.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 11. 2012 5:52PM
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