WASHINGTON (Aug. 16, 2016)
- Steven DeLuca is alive and out of the hospital because NABJ members came to his aid and administered CPR after he suffered a heart attack outside the NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards at the 2016 NABJ/NAHJ Convention & Career Fair.
Aaron LaMere, DeLuca's best friend and business partner, was shoulder to shoulder when DeLuca's heart attack happened.
"I didn't know he was going to live until we got to the hospital," LaMere said. "It was a huge relief. All I thought was how am I going to call his wife and tell her if he had died."
Witnesses say that DeLuca, a freelance entertainment scenic artist, is alive today because of the quick response of NABJ and an NAHJ members, who were attending the awards event. He was also assisted by Dr. Asqual Getaneh, a guest at the Salute to Excellence Gala that evening.
"I can say it was without question one of the most frightening experiences of my life," said Kimberly Adams, a business reporter for Marketplace in Washington.
"I am extremely grateful and feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to do multiple CPR and first aid trainings, so that that information kicked in at the right moment. I am still extraordinarily upset that a hotel of that size did not have any defibrillators on site and I was very grateful to President Glover that she has instructed me that first aid and CPR training will likely be a component of future NABJ conventions."
Adams hopes this will be a lesson to everyone that is important to have CPR training because it is never known when the need may arise.
NABJ President Sarah Glover noted it was heroic that NABJers immediately provided aid when they noticed DeLuca on the floor.
"I'm grateful that NABJ members were in a position to jump in quickly and save the Mr. DeLuca's life. It's a blessing," Glover said. "I'm calling on Marriott headquarters to be certain there are defibrillators in each and every hotel to provide lifesaving assistance to those in need."
Adams performed CPR on DeLuca, who had been helping set up signage for the convention attendees, until an ambulance came. LaMere tried to find a defibrillator after he could not get a pulse and his friend was unresponsive.
LaMere called 9-1-1, and DeLuca was taken to George Washington University Hospital where he was in the intensive care until he had heart surgery.
DeLuca will be in recovery for several weeks before he is able to return to work. LaMere set up a GoFundMe account to help his family with expenses. To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/2cxg96dy
. As of Tuesday, the account has $7,800 of its $10,000 goal.
DeLuca looks forward to seeing everyone and personally thanking Kimberly Adams and Brandon Bryant, a photojournalist for CBS47/Fox 30 Action News in Jacksonville, for saving his life, LaMere wrote on the page.
NABJ reached out to Marriott to bring the incident to their attention and to formally request that every Marriott hotel be equipped with defibrillators. There are 4,500 Marriott hotels in 87 countries and territories, according to Marriott's website.