Happy Ending, New Beginning

Georgia man’s second chance sparks desire to help others

When 55-year-old Darryl Bagwell awoke on the morning of Dec. 29, 2015, he felt fine. Pain free and in some of the best shape of his life, Darryl went about his daily routine until that afternoon, when a slight headache prompted him to climb aboard his road bike and go for a ride.

Of course, most of us would be down for the count with a headache, but not Darryl. Exercise actually helps him overcome headaches. So off he went on his bike, leaving his neighborhood and crossing Buford Highway in south Forsyth County, Ga. A little less than one mile into his ride, however, his life would change forever.
“Forsyth County 911, what’s your emergency?”

“There’s a man lying in the road and he’s not moving. I think he needs an ambulance!”

In the blink of an eye, Darryl’s heart stopped beating. Riding on his bike at about 20 miles an hour, Darryl’s body suddenly went lifeless and he careened to the earth, his helmet the only thing breaking his fall. Darryl’s life, full of family and friends, hobbies and professional success, had seemingly come to a tragic and unexpected end.
Until his angel arrived.

Carrie Stone, a nurse who practices at Northside Hospital – Forsyth, was driving by. She saw that Darryl had fallen, immediately pulled into the median and ran across traffic to see how she could help. After a few chest compressions, Darryl’s color began to return. Paramedics arrived a short time later, shocked his heart and transported him to the hospital.

Today, Darryl continues his strong recovery and is partnering with the North Georgia Heart Foundation to spread his message.

“The fact that Carrie knew CPR and made the choice to help someone in need is the reason I am here today,” Darryl said. “That’s why Carrie and I are determined to educate everyone we can on the importance of CPR and AED education.

“Every day in the U.S., there are 1,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. The survival rate is about 4%, and with each passing minute that nothing is done, the chance of survival declines by 10%. When someone experiences cardiac arrest, there are three things one must do in order to save that person’s life: act quickly, call 911, and do chest compressions.”
Darryl also had another thing on his side that aided in his survival: his health.

“I rode just under 6,200 miles last year on my bike and enjoy staying active,” he said. “I don’t smoke, seldom drink alcohol and eat a balanced diet.”

Had Darryl not been in such good shape, his chances of surviving a cardiac event and making a full recovery would be greatly reduced.

“It is very important that we take better care of ourselves,” Darryl said. “Set a goal to walk at least 30 minutes, three times a week. It’s the best activity you can do to improve the strength of your heart. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting. Georgia has a free tobacco quit line. Instead of a cheeseburger and fries, try the salmon and a side salad. Small changes in one’s lifestyle can make a big difference.”

If you’re a smoker and want to make a quit attempt, call the Georgia Tobacco Quitline: 1-877-270-STOP.

Adopting a heart healthy lifestyle is easy! There are many resources to help get you started on a path of better health to reduce your risk of heart disease:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Georgia Department of Public Health