A HEART-y response

Dave Schwab

Mon January 25, 2016 1:33pm

Eastlake High School mountain bike team coach Ron Guitard is in real trouble following a heart attack.
But the Chula Vista community is rising to the occasion to help the currently unemployed teacher by creating a Go Fund Me page, www.gofundme.com/coachronguitard, to help defray expenses while he’s recuperating.
On New Year’s Day, Guitard had a heart attack near the start of a 100-mile bike ride and was saved in part due to prompt action from a fellow cyclist.
“We had more than 60 people, ages 12 to 70-plus including two former Olympians and a few future ones,” said Pam Jorgensen Houle, who helped organize the 30-year-old “century ride.”
“Lucky for Ron, when he fell over stopped at a red light six miles in, my friend Fred, a fireman, started CPR while 911 was called,” Jorgensen Houle said. “After Ron was safely taken away we did continue the ride but were very worried. We all were so happy when he came through this OK.”
Jorgensen Houle added, “No one thought Ron was having a heart attack — he is slim and fit. We thought maybe his foot slipped and he hit his head or broke a collarbone.”
Susie Murphy, executive director of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association who was along on the ride with Guitard, said his collapse was a shock to the rest of the cycling group as Ron has “regularly ridden hundreds of miles.”
“Ron is in a long convalescence,” Murphy noted, “which is why Frank Garduno started a Go Fund Me account which collected just shy of $5,000 in a week toward a fundraising goal of $30,000.”
Additionally, Murphy said cyclists have also found a certified CPR trainer to provide a free class to train cyclists how to intervene in a medical emergency like Guitard’s.
Guitard, 56, is grateful there was someone nearby schooled in dealing with medical emergencies. He said it’s also been a godsend knowing people do care.
A math teacher with two daughters ages 8 and 17, Guitard lost a son to cancer in 2010. He said his father, who was in the military and was a smoker, had a heart attack at age 39.
Counseling others to help them avoid finding themselves in a similar medical situation to his, Guitard offered some advice.
“Do a little bit of research, double check into your family’s medical history to make sure there aren’t any ‘triggers’ (like heart attacks),” he said. “There’s also a medical procedure, which isn’t very expensive, where they can put dye into your veins and arteries then take photos showing if they’re clogged or whether your blood is flowing cleanly.”
Of his good fortune to have survived a heart attack, Guitard credits the undying support of family and friends.
“I’m very thankful people have put out prayers and positive vibes,” he said, “and that they’re raising funds to help my wife navigate through all this. That money is going to be very helpful in the next couple months.”
The link to the free CPR class is www.facebook.com/events/174499972905598/.