In 2000, Lee Curtes was on a ski trip in Vail, Colorado with his wife and their friends when he began to experience difficulty breathing at the top of the mountain. Initially he thought it was due to altitude sickness until he realized that he was close to 12,000 feet. This was nothing new to the avid skier as he has been higher than this elevation many times before now. Lee sat down at a nearby table and before he knew it, a ski patroller was asking about his symptoms, current condition and family history. Lee began sweating profusely and experienced pain radiating out of his arms into his shoulders. Lee laid down, as instructed by the patroller, and last recalled looking up at the blue sky, which is when his heart stopped. Luckily, the ski patrol had the Philips’ HeartStart FR2 AED handy, applied the pads, pressed the button and delivered a shock. As his heart was fibrillating, a helicopter arrived and flew him down to the Vail ER, and then to a hospital in Denver where they were able to vacuum out a blood clot and put in a stent.
A true inspiration, to this day, Lee enjoys going back to Vail Mountain and skis up to the same spot where his heart stopped. He has returned to Vail 12 of the 16 years since that incident to ski with the patrollers that helped save his life.