IDAHO FALLS — Visit Apple Athletic Club around lunchtime and you’ll likely find Jim Beck on the elliptical and Tom Stickley lifting weights.
The two didn’t know each other until last fall when Beck nearly died while exercising.
The 71-year-old says it was just like any other workout. He was feeling fine when suddenly everything changed.
“The lights went out. I don’t remember anything after that,” Beck recalls.
Stickley was working out several yards away. He had accidentally left his phone home that day so he didn’t have headphones in and could hear everything.
“I heard a crash behind me and kind of looked over my shoulder,” Stickley says. “I saw a couple of people running over the ellipticals.”
Stickley rushed over to help. He’s a physical therapist at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and quickly took control of the situation – telling someone to call 911 and yelling to another that a defibrillator was needed.
“When I got there, Jim was down and unresponsive to touch, to words, anything,” Stickley says. “I knew it was a serious situation.”
Blood was gushing from the back of Beck’s head where he had landed from the fall. Stickley asked someone to apply pressure on the wounds as he began life-saving measures.
“I started CPR and he took another big breath so I thought he was back,” Stickley recalls. “The paramedics came right after that and took over.”
Beck was rushed to EIRMC where doctors determined he had suffered a major heart attack. He spent six nights in the ICU and says he doesn’t remember anything that happened in the gym that day.
“It was amazing to me how much Tom had done in such a short period,” Beck says. “Not only getting there when he did but instructing people to get an AED, call 911 and go get rags to take care of the bleeding in the back of my head.”
Stickley was honored last week by the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho as an East Idaho Real Hero. With tears in their eyes, Beck and his wife gave the young man a standing ovation as he accepted the award.
It’s been a little over four months since Beck collapsed and he’s back at the gym thankful for a young stranger who saved his life.
“What do you say to someone who has likely saved your life? There aren’t any words. There are no words. I have looked and thought and I did write a card and it seemed so trite (and) seemed so shallow to what he had done for me,” Beck says.