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Coen Mol (47) survived cardiac arrest: ‘Really, this can happen to anyone’

20 January 2017

Never had the 47-year-old Coen Mol suffered from health problems. Still he was unexpectedly struck by cardiac arrest. When his 14-year-old daughter Lotte found him, he was already dying. Thanks to the resolute action taken by local residents Saskia and Marjan, he is still alive. Coen is sporty and healthy, doesn’t smoke, drinks in moderation and isn’t an ounce overweight. He knows now it can happen to anyone.

Alarm call

I wasn’t feeling very well that day when I came home from work. That’s why I lay down in the bedroom. Sometime later our daughter Lotte heard me making strange noises. She called her mother immediately. She first called the emergency number 112 and then our neighbour, Saskia van Niekerk, who came immediately. The alarm centre called in first responders through Stan the CPR Network. Our backdoor neighbour Marjan van Ende responded immediately. Within two minutes, four ladies were looking after me.

Resuscitation

After the attack I was in a place where resuscitation was impossible. Saskia couldn’t move me, either. So she just threw herself on top of me. When Marjan rushed in they were able to move me to a place where resuscitation was possible.

Six minutes

Even before a first responder arrived with an AED, the ambulance arrived. The ambulance got there within the crucial six minutes. The ambulance staff offered the victim first aid with the Lukas device. With the help of the fire brigade and police, I was lifted from my house with a cherry picker. At that time, my pulse was still very faint. It wasn’t looking good.

Critical

Upon arrival in the Haga Hospital in The Hague, my condition was still critical. I was then cooled to thirty degrees Celcius (eighty-six Fahrenheit) to preserve my brain functions as much as possible. Two days later they brought me back. It’s almost a miracle I didn’t suffer any lasting damage. A few weeks after the cardiac arrest, I went back to work for therapeutic effects. A few months later I was riding my bicycle and playing volleyball.

Saskia told me that the insecurity and the possibility of permanent damage were the biggest torment for her. She was really struggling, especially because she knows me so well. The moment I opened my eyes was a real blow for her. She told me that she feels really good knowing she can handle resuscitations. She can trust herself not to shut down. That is why she signed up as a first responder.

Impact

My cardiac arrest had a much bigger mental impact on my wife and daughter than on myself. I can’t remember any part of the attack or the period before. All I know comes from what people told me. My attack also had a very positive effect. Because as a result, a resuscitation course took place in our neighbourhood, Druivenblok. Of the 52 participants, a significant number signed on as first responder, too. That way, there are always enough people nearby if someone in Druivenblok suffers a cardiac arrest.