Sunday, September 16, 2018

This couple’s ‘first kiss’ was when she performed CPR on him. They’ve been in love since.

© Washington Post, September 10, 2018



Andi Traynor and Max Montgomery met each other on Facebook through mutual friends. They had gotten together casually and nonromantically a few times, then decided to go surfing early one morning on California’s Capitola Beach last October.

When they finished with the waves and were walking off the beach, Montgomery, 56, fell to the ground.

Traynor, a doctor, was confused for a moment. Then she checked and realized he did not have a pulse. He was having a heart attack.

“I saw him fall, and initially I thought he tripped,” said Traynor, 45, a medical professor at Stanford University and an anesthesiologist who works with high-risk pregnancies. “I turned him over, and I immediately realized something was very wrong.”

She yelled for someone to call 911 and then started CPR. She did a rescue breath and then chest compressions for seven minutes to keep his blood circulating before paramedics arrived. They used a defibrillator on him three times to no avail and then carried him to an ambulance.
She was distraught. She didn’t know at the time that videographer Alexander Baker had set up a time lapse video to record nature on the beach and that the entire frightening episode was being recorded.

Actual time lapse footage of the arrest and CPR

“You can see me breaking down at that point,” Traynor said of the video. “I thought, ‘He’s dead, people don’t live through that.’ I can’t believe this just happened. How did this just happen? I just felt sadness.”

In the ambulance, paramedics used the defibrillator three more times and finally revived Montgomery.

Traynor said she was sure he had died and searched his Facebook to try to find his relatives to let them know. She contacted his sister and was flabbergasted to find out he was alive.

“His sister said, ‘He’s out of the procedure, do you want to talk to him?’ ” Traynor said. “I burst into tears.”

Montgomery, an outdoorsman and avid runner, got on the phone and apologized to her for collapsing. The next day he had triple bypass surgery.

Max Montgomery at the hospital with two of the EMTs who helped him. (Help-A-Heart foundation)

Traynor showed up at the hospital and waited long hours with Montgomery’s family and friends. She had already developed a crush on him before the heart attack, and he had told her that he had a crush on her, as well. But their interaction had never been romantic, and they decided they’d take things very slowly. But seeing so many of Montgomery’s family and close, long-term friends together made her realize what a kindhearted good man her new friend was.

She was divorced with two kids and cautious to start a new relationship. He was divorced, as well.

“I saw so many amazing, lovely, kind people who loved him so much,” she said. “I’d spent some time studying what makes a healthy relationship, and one factor is somebody who has a good relationship with family and long-term friendships.”


After the surgery, which was a success, she went to visit his hospital room. He recalled telling her: “Who wants to be with a guy who had heart attack. I won’t blame you if you run for the hills.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” she told him.

For Montgomery, that was a turning point.

“When she said ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I felt like my heart started to heal from the inside,” he said. “I had a great and fast recovery. I believe it was because I was madly in love.”

Andi Traynor and Max Montgomery during their first paddle after his heart attack. (Help-A-Heart foundation)

Six days later, after Montgomery was discharged from the hospital, they went back to Capitola Beach where they went surfing — stand up paddle surfing, actually — and had their actual first kiss.

“We do consider the CPR our first kiss,” Traynor said. “But the day he got out of the hospital, we had our first real kiss.”

She told him there was footage of him falling to the ground and that the videographer had given it to him for his personal use. They decided together they wanted to use it to help people.


“We didn’t want to put it up on Facebook and say, ‘The craziest thing happened last weekend,’ ” Traynor said. “We wanted to be intentional about it.”

As their relationship grew stronger, they decided to educate people about the benefits of CPR and try to dispel some of the myths and fears. One of the biggest, Montgomery said, is people fear they will do more harm than good, and so they are hesitant to perform CPR, especially on a stranger.

To that, he points out that when someone doesn’t have a pulse, things can’t get worse for them, so it’s always worthwhile to give it a try.

They’ve started the Help-A-Heart foundation, which offers CPR instruction and outreach. It’s part of another nonprofit Montgomery founded, Paddle-4-Good, which offers adventure activities such as stand up paddling for underserved populations and people with physical and developmental needs.

Both Traynor and Montgomery are now certified CPR instructors and recite statistics from the American Heart Association: Every 90 seconds, someone dies somewhere in the United States from sudden cardiac arrest. Bystander CPR can triple the chances of survival. Most heart attacks outside the hospital happen at home, so if you learn CPR, you are most likely to use it on a family member and save the life of someone you love.

Since they started telling their story publicly, they have been on the receiving end of lots of bad jokes: “You have to get someone’s consent before you kiss them,” or “Some people will do anything to get a woman’s attention.”

They roll their eyes and chuckle politely. They don’t mind. Mostly, Montgomery said, he’s happy to be alive.

“It’s a crazy thing. It’s the craziest story of my life thus far,” he said. “I’m glad to be on the lucky side of it.”

Proclamation for Firefighter Combat Challenge Kiev, 15 September 2018

While I am unable to be in Kiev today in person, I am here with you in spirit. I salute all the firefighters who have taken up the Challenge. Not only have you made a decision to help your fellow man, but you have also made a commitment to be the best that you can be by training to do your job better, faster and safer. 

There may just a few winners of the medals, but every one of you is a winner, just by stepping out here on this course and showing the public that you serve that you are ready to go in harm’s way, with the knowledge that you have the capabilities to perform the essential functions of a firefighter. 

With the completion of the course today, you will become a member of one of the most elite global firefighter fraternities. Welcome to the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trying to trick yourself into exercising more? Good luck.


A “nudge” is a policy intervention that “alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives,” according to Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago economist who last year won a Nobel Prize in part for his work on the subject.

Nudges are typically used to get people to do things that are good for them or society as a whole, but which they may be otherwise disinclined to do. Famous nudges include painted flies on urinals, reducing “spillage” by giving men something to aim at; automatic 401(k) enrollment; and getting people to use less electricity by showing them how much their neighbors are using.

One type of nudge that's shown a great deal of promise is known as a planning prompt, which asks people to lay out the concrete steps they will take to achieve a certain goal. Research has shown these prompts are effective at getting people to do things such as vote, get their flu shots and go to the dentist.

What about going to the gym?

That's what the team of researchers behind a new working paper set out to discover when they ran a randomized field experiment among 877 members of a private gym in the Midwest. In the realm of exercise, in particular, there's a notoriously large “gap between intentions and actions,” as the researchers describe it. Most Americans know they should be exercising more, but less than a quarter of them are getting federally recommended amounts of physical activity each week. A 2015 experiment conducted among workers at a Fortune 500 company found that “workers’ targeted levels of exercise are 43 percent higher than their actual levels of exercise,” according to the authors of the new working paper.

The researchers recruited subjects from among the gym's active members and divided them into two groups. The treatment group was asked to fill out a schedule indicating the days and times they planned to attend the gym in the following two weeks. A control group filled out no exercise plan, instead simply listing the number of times they had exercised in the previous two weeks. The central question: Would the people who filled out an exercise schedule go to the gym more than the people who didn't?

To keep respondents honest, the researchers used the gym's records of member check-ins to track actual exercise frequency. What they found was slightly dismaying, at least for anyone hoping to nudge themselves into exercising more: “The treatment group made an average of 2.3 visits over the two-week period, compared to an average of 2.6 for the control group,” the authors write. Statistically speaking, the difference between the two groups was zero.

The authors tried to suss out why this was. The subjects certainly believed that planning out their visits could help them exercise more: Before the study period, 60 percent of all subjects agreed with the statement “I don't go to the gym as much as I would like because I don’t set aside time for it in my schedule; then my schedule fills up and I no longer have time to go to the gym.”

The treatment subjects also appeared to try to stick to their plans — “subjects are more than twice as likely to attend the gym on planned days than on unplanned days,” the study found.

But the researchers found that not all plans were fulfilled. There remained a considerable gap between a stated intent to exercise on a given day and actually showing up to the gym that day. In fact, one of the biggest predictors of overall gym attendance during the study period was not whether people made plans to visit the gym but rather how often they visited the gym before the study period.

In other words, people already inclined to go to the gym continued to go to the gym, regardless of whether they made concrete plans to do so or not. This creates a discouraging circularity for anyone hoping to change their exercise routine: If you want to start going to the gym, it's best to already be going to the gym.

Why does the nudge fail in this case? The researchers suspect that planning nudges may be more useful for one-time events, like doctor's appointments. Activities that are repeated, such as going to the gym, are easier to put off. “Repeated behaviors like exercise . . . are very unlikely to produce a feeling of urgency, since many individuals likely have the mindset that they can always exercise 'later,'" the authors explain.

Unfortunately for many of the would-be exercisers among us, that “later” never comes.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Time to Spare? Take WOW Air!

I saw a humorous meme a short while ago. It’s posted here. Basically, it goes something like this: a couple is being served dinner on a flight. They’re so impressed and wonder how luxurious planes in 50 years will be.

This past week, with little pre-planning, I needed to get to Berlin for the 12th Annual Firefighter Combat Challenge, and my options were limited. A never heard of airline, called WOW Air came up on Kayak.

It had the shortest elapsed time to Berlin via Iceland. All the cheap seats were gone, and I hate to pay retail. But, I needed a booking. The International departures are on D concourse, the far end of the airport, where I have not yet traveled. The departure was scheduled for 7PM (1900hrs EDT). The day before, I wanted to check in and the website reported that there was no such reservation. That really bolstered my confidence. I called the airline and after a significant hold time, the agent confirmed my reservation under my last name: DAVISIII. I am the 3rd. But this was a new one. The recommendation was to be at the gate 3 (three) hours before departure. Given the lapse of the confirmation on the website, I thought that I better be present since I could not miss this window.

I arrived at the appropriate three-hours before departure, checked the one bag to avoid the $60 fee and had my carryon inspected to ensure that it would fit under the seat.

In photo two below, you can see about 200 passengers milling about, past 7, with no plane in sight.
Waiting at Gate 12, BWI Airport for WOW Air departing for Iceland, 29 August


The plane from Iceland landed about 15 minutes late and took about a half hour for everyone to unload. With virtually every seat filled, off we went. I took a shot from the aft end of the plane during the flight. Seemed like it was 100m long. 

The plane landed in Iceland around 0500hrs. There was a mad scramble to make the connection to the Berlin flight since we had one hour to get through immigration. Actually, that worked out reasonably well as all the agents were on auto-stamp. 

My seat on this leg was one row from the back of the bus. I was in a middle seat, but the gate agent had told me that while she could not change my seat, the aisle seat was empty. Great news! I hoped. So, I was counting down the minutes before they closed the hatch and here comes some guy who probably tipped the scale at 4-bills. Oh no! 

Fortunately, he had the very last two seats on the back row. Whew. Close call. 

Now, off to Germany. It’s about a 2.5-hour ride. There are absolutely no amenities. Including water. You can rent an iPad if you want to watch whatever they put on it. 

The planes are new and clean Airbuses. All the flight attendants must have to meet a height requirement of 6’2”. I guess this allows them to handle the overhead bins or play on the company basketball team.

The return trip had its interesting moments. So, the flights leave Shoenfield (STX) Terminal D. Basically, it’s a hanger. They had two people checking in 200 passengers. Not one to like standing in line, there were no options but standing in line for an interminable period of time. I would add a caption, but Blogger doesn’t like leaving things where you put them. 


The layover in Iceland was a modest 1.5 hours, with huge lines for the fast food purveyors. What was interesting was the 25 people, dutifully standing in line at the water fountain to fill their bottles. And, you had to go downstairs to find the fountain. 

Back on the plane, heading West. 


The only event of significance was an altercation between two passengers. The flight attendant separated the two family members. 

Back in Baltimore, waiting for baggage, I struck up a conversation with the five flight attendants. We concurred that based upon the speed at which random bags appeared, there must have been one guy on the tarmac. I suggest that they hire more people since they proport to actually be in the black. I’m not so sure. This might be a good stock to short. 

Now, for some real fun, you’ve got to read this poor sap’s experience and why he’ll never fly WOW again.

Why I will never fly WOW Air and neither should you

As for me, well, maybe. And, maybe not.