Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Tourist survives heart attack because of AED


March 10, 2022

courtesy photo

Cristy Leader performed CPR on her husband Tim and then he was revived with an AED.

Chief of Police Pat Cornwell recently reported on a success story about a patient who was having a heart attack, who was revived by an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Cornwell said, "On the 20th of February at 1:07 a.m., dispatch received a 911 phone call from the Hot Springs Hotel. The lady on the phone reported that they had a male, Tim Leader, who was not breathing and CPR was in progress. Officer Bobbi Byrd and Deputy Ken Smith responded." Cornwell added that the wife of the patient, Cristy Leader, was doing CPR and when they got there, they took over.

Officer Byrd had grabbed her AED and placed the pads on Tim's chest and on his side to see if it was ready for a shock. If the heart is not beating, it will produce a shock. Cornwell said the AED shocked Tim one time, and they continued CPR. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was starting to breathe again. Next, they took him to the hospital to be taken care of by their staff.

Tim and Christy are from Billings, Montana and in a letter to the Thermopolis Police Department, they told some of their story. Christy explained that Tim had a heart attack on Christmas Day in the evening.

Cristy said, "I took him to the Billings Clinic, and by 9 a.m. that next morning he had 2 stents. Since that time, we have continued on with our lives. Tim works at Albertsons and I at Riverstone Health as an LPN. We decided to go down to play in the Hot Springs for a little mini vacation. Saturday we spent relaxing in the water, visiting the Dinosaur Museum, and wandering through the shops in Thermopolis. I fell asleep around 9 p.m. in our motel room at the motel. My husband is a night owl, and he stayed up watching TV. For how long I do not know."  

Cristy continued and said, "Around 1 a.m. I woke up with the sounds of my husband in respiratory distress and nonresponsive. I tried to wake him but was unable. I checked for his pulse and found he did not have one and he was not breathing. I called 911 and started CPR. Within a few minutes/seconds, Officer Bobbi Byrd and Deputy Ken Smith were there. I am unsure which one started CPR and the other one opened up the AED. Because of these two fine people and that AED, my husband's heart started, and he was breathing again. The ambulance arrived and Tim was taken to Hot Springs Hospital where Dr. Bright and her first-class staff took amazing care of him. By 4 a.m. he was being flown to Billings by the Wyoming air flight team. By 9 a.m. he had a stent placed at the Billings Clinic and is currently at home alive and well." 

"Since that early Sunday morning call to 911, there have been many people that had a hand in saving my husband's life. Tim and I personally would like to thank these two fine officers of the law and the training they have received on AEDs. Thank you from our hearts and especially Tim's, that is beating today. Thermopolis, Wyoming, you should be very proud!!"

Chief Cornwell noted that AEDs are not 100% successful. According to the Circulation Journal Report, an AED is used only in 18.8% of cardiac arrest cases.

Chief Cornwell said he spoke with the Leaders the next day and said, "I was very surprised to hear a man's voice.... But he thanked all of us, which was very nice of him. Apparently, he's got to go back and possibly get a pacemaker or a defibrillator put in his chest. But that's down the road. But today, he's alive and very thankful for being alive."


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