JJ Pesany talks about his second chance at life, his heart hero and paying it forward

On July 1, 2013 I suffered a tragic near death experience.  This was the day a Hero saved me and gave me a second chance at life.  If it were not for his quick actions in performing CPR and using an AED I would not be here today telling you my story.

My name is JJ Pesany, I just turned 17 years old, and I am a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Survivor.  I am one of the lucky ones because most people who suffer SCA do not survive (the current statistic is that 9 out of 10 victims of SCA do not survive), which is in large part due to the fact that CPR is not performed quick enough. 

I do not have much memory of what happened to me, but what did happen to me has changed my life forever.  On that unforgettable day, I was moving equipment after our Football Kicking Camp with my Coach and two other athletes, when we suffered a severe electrical shock from an overhead high voltage wire.  I went into Cardiac Arrest.  Thankfully, Detective Keith Kerl was near the athletic fields when he received the 911 call.  He rushed to the scene, recognized the grave situation that I was in, immediately began CPR and asked Officer Robert Cornell to get an AED from his patrol car.  I was urgently transported to Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo where I received the critical care that I needed in my chain of survival.  I reflect back to this day often, and know that had Detective Kerl not been there for me, the outcome would have been much different.

I am now a Junior in High School and am a member of National Honor Society, Student Union, Academy of Finance, Project Lead the Way, Varsity Lacrosse and the Kicker for my Varsity Football team.  All of this would not be possible, if it weren’t for someone who knew CPR.  I will never know how to fully re-pay the man who saved my life, but I learned CPR months after my injury to honor his only request of me.  Mr. Kerl has been a CPR Instructor for many years and he taught me and my football teammates, as well as my family this lifesaving skill.  Learning this skill and having such a personal connection with it inspired me to become a certified CPR Instructor to help teach others.  In my opinion CPR is a necessary skill that every citizen should possess. Many lives would be spared if everyone were trained.  I hope that no one I teach ever has to use this skill, but I feel good knowing that if they are put in that situation to help save someone’s life, they will know what to do.

I am also an Advocate for AHA and CPR in Schools.  Last June I traveled to Albany and met with our Legislators to persuade them to pass the CPR in Schools Bill.  This past year I have continued to meet with Administrators, write letters and speak about the importance of everyone knowing CPR.  Every student should have the opportunity to be trained in CPR before they graduate from High School.  I just recently helped train 500 of my classmates at my High School.  We plan to train all 2000+ students next year and every year after.  If a school as large as Lancaster High School can do this, all schools can accomplish this.  The amount of new potential lifesavers that will be created by doing this will increase the survival rate so that more SCA victims and their loved ones will be as lucky as me and my family.      

 – JJ Pesany

JJ Pesany & Detective Keith Kerl address Lancaster HS at a recent CPR Training

JJ Pesany & Detective Keith Kerl address Lancaster HS at a recent CPR Training


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