"Their tremendous staff helped me live through a cardiac story of survival."

May 18, 2022

It was 2015, the Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday.William Richardson Temecula resident William Richardson and his wife Connie decided to head out in the cooler weather to hike one of their favorite local trails about 20 miles east of Temecula. It was midway through the hike that William, having until that moment shown no symptoms of a heart issue, collapsed and Connie realized they had left their cell phones at home.

Connie, a retired healthcare professional, had CPR training about 35 years prior to that day but had never used it. She found no pulse, so she immediately started CPR and hoped for a miracle. Soon afterward, a retired fireman hiking the same path came upon the scene and immediately called 911 from his cell phone and assisted Connie with deep chest compression CPR. Since they were in a remote location, a helicopter arrived to airlift Richardson to Temecula Valley Hospital.

Richardson coded twice in the helicopter. At the hospital, doctors determined he had suffered a heart attack and rushed him into emergency cardiac surgery. After receiving a stent his artery was opened up, and he spent four days recovering in the ICU. “The Temecula Valley Hospital staff are a team of rock stars,” said Richardson. “I received nothing but the best care. Despite it being the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the entire staff stayed late and came in extra shifts to keep me alive.”

It took Richardson several months of recovery to get back on his feet. “After getting another chance to have the breath of life, I want to live life to the fullest,” he said. “Temecula Valley Hospital is the absolute best, and I recognize that their tremendous staff helped me live through a cardiac story of survival.”

Darlene Wetton, CEO of Temecula Valley Hospital, knows the importance of CPR. “We have had so many amazing lifesaving stories of patients coming into our hospital after receiving CPR in a medical emergency; from a spouse, a community member, a friend or family member. Even hands-only CPR can save someone’s life,” said Wetton. “William’s story is a true example of how crucial CPR can be to protect someone’s life.”

Today Richardson, also a retired healthcare professional, and Connie are enjoying retirement. They spend time searching for European antiques and traveling to different states looking for treasures. They fly fish, maintain their succulent garden and bike ride in the sunny California weather. Richardson meets with Dr. Niraj Parekh, his cardiologist, regularly and continues to eat healthy and exercise. Despite always living a healthy, active lifestyle, Richardson has a family history of heart complications, so he now takes medication to keep his heart strong. 

Dr. Parekh said, “William takes his health very seriously. I call him my 1%, because he was so critical when he had his heart attack. Our patient-physician relationship is so important to keep him healthy and strong. I am proud of our communication and to be his physician.” 

When Richardson recently had shortness of breath, he urgently made an appointment with Dr. Parekh. He had a check-up with a cardiac angiogram at Temecula Valley Hospital. Richardson said, “I received the report that all of my pipes are clean and I have a clean bill of health. It is truly amazing. Temecula Valley Hospital provided the care that saved my life. I couldn’t be more pleased to have so many wonderful years ahead of me. I want to continue to maximize every moment.”

Reflecting on his experience, Richardson offered some parting thoughts: "Everyone should be trained in CPR, regardless of your age. Don't ever leave your cell phone behind for any reason. If you have any cause for cardiac concern, there is only one institution I would recommend and that is Temecula Valley Hospital. Finally, thank you TVH, the outstanding cath lab team and Dr. Parekh for giving Connie and me an additional six years of life together and many more to follow."