A new beginning

By Michael Ullery

April 18, 2014

Mike Ullery

Staff Photographer


PIQUA — As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, it is the time of the year to reflect on how we choose to spend the new life given to each of us by God’s son.

This is also the time of year that new life, resurrected life, takes place in the form of trees, grass, and all the other living things that surround us in our daily lives.

For some, the concept of a new life, a new beginning, takes on a more personal and real meaning.

Easter also is a time to reflect that God does indeed have a plan for each and every one of us. Whether we follow His teachings, or not, we are all part of His plan.

On the morning of April 1, life-long Piqua resident Kevin Pryfogle took part in a two-mile run that began and ended at the Piqua YMCA. For Pryfogle, an avid runner, this was no different than any other day.

The run was organized by Sue Peltier in support of a California-based marathoner, Monika Allen, who had recently been made fun of in SHAPE Magazine for the tutu she was wearing during the New York Marathon.

Pryfogle easily completed the course, one of the first to finish. As he was standing at the “finish line,” Pryfogle said that he, “Just all of a sudden became extremely light-headed. It was like I was in a huge funk. And that is all I remember.

Pryfogle had actually suffered a heart attack.

Miami County YMCA Director Jim McMaken’s morning also began as a routine day. But, minutes after arriving at his Piqua office, McMaken said, “Two of the ladies who had been out front came running in and said, ‘Call 911, call 911, Kevin’s down.’”

McMaken said that since he had just spoken with Pryfogle only a couple minutes earlier, he assumed that he a tripped and fallen, but, “I just happened to grab the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) out of the cabinet in the thought that we might need it.”

What was first thought to be a possible seizure, turned out to be a far more serious issue.

McMaken’s quick actions were responsible for keeping Pryfogle alive until paramedics from the Piqua Fire Department arrived and took over.

It was ultimately determined that Pryfogle needed a quintuple heart bypass operation. Several arteries were determined to be 90 percent blocked.

Peltier, for whom the day also marked the anniversary of her mother’s death from a heart attack, and Pastor Kazy Hinds from Westminster Presbyterian Church, were among those who quickly noted the “perfect storm” of events that fell into place to allow Pryfogle a new lease on life.

Hinds said, “All of us experience mini resurrections throughout our life. Because the Psalms are like that. In the Psalm there is a time of orientation, a time of disorientation, which is where a lot of us live, and time of re-orientation, of bring at time of bringing yourself back.”

Had Peltier not decided to hold the run that morning, had Pryfogle not decided to go for the run that morning, he would have been home, alone, when he suffered the heart attack. If it were not for the YMCA having the AED device readily available, along with McMaken to provide immediate emergency medial attention and the highly professional paramedics from the fire department being just a block away — the outcome could easily have been different.

At an interview last week, Pryfogle, who is back home and recovering, said, “There’s just so many dots that you can connect if you go back.”

Pryfogle’s wife Kelly noted, “Otherwise he would have been out in his company truck somewhere,” (had he chosen to not run that morning.)

Now that the “hard part” is behind him, Pryfogle has had time to reflect on events. “I don’t feel entitled. I had a lot of people pray for me. I could just … just a lot of good things happened that I can’t explain. I’ll never be able to explain. And, I’m so grateful.”

McMaken, who rode to the hospital with Pryfogle, said, “Within five minutes of being at the hospital, we were literally bumrushed with people.”

Kelly added, “Kazy, for me was a big help because she’s been through this.” Hinds and her husband, Joe, had personal experience when Joe suffered a heart attack two years ago, to the week. They spent a lot of time with the Pryfogles, explaining every step of what to expect.

Pryfogle noted the great group of friends and supporters he has. To them he says, “Thank you. I love you all.” As his voice momentarily broke, he went on, “the only thing to do now is pay it forward. I can’t pay it back.”

His wife added, “We’ve both said that. The next chance we get. People have done a lot for us. They really have.”

For Pryfogle, he said, “It was like a dream. I can remember bits and pieces. I kept thinking ‘Wake up. Wake up’

Both Pryfogles hope to educate the friends and the public to “Get themselves checked out.” Kelly said, “Because if it can happen to someone (like Kevin, who was thought to be in perfect health) it can happen to anyone.”

Pryfogle wanted to set a “new lease on life goal” of running a half-marathon (13.1 miles) in September but that was quickly shot down by his wife and others. He does hope to run a marathon in the future.

The hardest step is the first step.

AEDs save lives

Mike Ullery

Staff Photographer


PIQUA — Kevin Pryfogle is living proof as to the value of AED machines. He owes his life to one, and of course, the man who was “at the controls.”

The Miami County YMCA is just one of a number of area establishments that have AEDs available.

While the Piqua YMCA has multiple units distributed throughout the building, the one that Jim McMaken used to save Pryfogle was about a month old.

“They do save lives,” said McMaken, “The absolutely save lives. They work. I witnessed it first-hand.”

McMaken said, “They are not expensive. I’ve always been a supporter of them. I’m an even bigger supporter of them now.”

Piqua firefighter Paul Brown, who is a certified instructor in the use of CPR and AEDs said that the units are critical for the “Chain of Survival,” that begins with the all-important call to 911, initiating CPR and getting an AED on scene until Advanced Life Support medics can arrive.

Brown said, “Data shows that AEDs save lives.”

A number of businesses in Piqua are placing AED machines in their stores and encouraging their staff to learn to use them.

The AED units are useful for two kinds of heart issues. They lunchbox-size units walk the user through the process.

Currently AED use is a part of CPR classes. The AED

Both the Miami County YMCA and the Piqua Fire Department offer classes on CPR and AED units. For more information on classes, you can contact the YMCA at (937) 773-9622 or Assistant Chief Bret Pohlschnieder at the Piqua Fire Department. His number is (937) 778-2015.