After surviving cardiac arrest, Realtor preaches importance of knowing CPR

After surviving cardiac arrest three years ago due to her husband’s knowledge of CPR, Realtor Regina Allemand is on a mission to make sure as many people learn the life-saving technique as possible.

“To say I am thankful for my husband…well there are no words,” Allemand said.

The incident took place around Easter 2021. Allemand had opened an app on her phone to check the cameras installed in her mother’s house to make sure she was OK. She didn’t see anyone on the cameras, but heard a strange beeping sound so she headed to her mom’s house to investigate.

When Allemand arrived, she discovered that the beeping noise was coming from her sister’s computer, but she soon began having intense chest pains. She called her husband, Norbert. At first, he thought she was joking, but when the call disconnected Norbert drove to Allemand’s location.

When he arrived, the first thing he saw was Allemand’s feet. She was on the ground with her eyes open, but she wasn’t responsive. Norbert called 911 and began performing CPR.

“He was working for OxyChem and they require the employees on the Emergency Response Team to attend and certify CPR training each year,” Allemand said. “Even if it were your day off  when the training was scheduled, you had to attend. Norbert said he’d never complain about having had to do that again.”

Norbert continued giving Allemand CPR until paramedics arrived and took over. On the way to the hospital, Allemand’s heart stopped beating again so the paramedics had to use an AED to restore her heart rhythm.

Regina Allemand and her husband, Norbert.

Allemand stayed on life support for two days. Once she was conscious, she had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in her chest.

“Spiritually this has affected me,” she said. “People ask, ‘Did you see the light?’  And I didn’t. Of course, I have memory loss, so maybe I really did and I just don’t remember. The fact is I don’t remember things that happened three weeks prior to the cardiac arrest.”

When word got out that Allemand was in the hospital, her friend Valerie Dauphin coordinated a public Rosary at Holy Family Catholic Church in Luling.

“I truly believe this is what worked to bring me back somewhat unaffected,” Allemand said.

She was able to return home after a week-long hospital stay.

“When I got to start talking with people post surgery, they all kept telling me, ‘God’s not finished with you yet. You have stuff left to do in this world,’” Allemand said. “This was quite disconcerting to me. I took this to heart. I questioned everything I was doing. What is my purpose? Is this why I am here? Why did I survive?  

“I learned only 10 percent of people survive cardiac arrest, and many of those suffer some adverse effect which could be brain damage. It did not appear I had any.”

Allemand said she soon came across a quote that changed her angst:

“God is still writing your story. Quit trying to steal the pen! Trust the Author.”

That was a game changer. She quit trying to look for her purpose and let God write the lines.

“I took things in. I listened more,” she said. “I just let life happen.”

But she’s focused on helping people who might be in a similar situation. 

“What saved me is being able to receive fairly quick CPR and having a person who knew what to do,” Allemand said. “This became quite apparent to me. So, how could I be an advocate to be sure people knew this skill?”

In order to raise awareness, Allemand threw a party on the first anniversary of her near-death experience with the theme “Stayin’ Alive.” At the party she played the song of the same name by the Bee Gees, which is also a tempo that people should follow when giving chest compressions, and handed out flyers with information about CPR.

“I invited friends, family, coworkers, vendors, supporters, my mermaids, the deputy and paramedics that came to the house to help my husband and myself along with instructors who taught my husband CPR at the plant,” she said. “It was a ‘Praise-Pray-Party & Potluck.’ We laughed, we cried, we danced and we ate.”

Allemand called the party the beginning of her story.

“I then spoke to church groups, women’s clubs, the Louisiana Realtors Association and to Latter & Blum’s corporate company-wide meeting,” she said.

She also partnered with the American Heart Association for a story for their website.

“CPR is a skill easily learned and could be needed in your every day life,” she said. “ Coworkers, friends and family could be in need for a plethora of reasons and circumstances. Hands-on only is the new way.  Being familiar with AEDs is also a good skill to know – know where to look for them and how to use them.  

“This is a matter of life and death.”

Allemand said that the cardiac arrest she endured really didn’t have a good explanation, but it was deemed a reaction of a medication she was taking for A-fib plus a vaccine she was given.

Before the incident took place, Allemand said her husband was already her hero. Now, she calls him her superhero. She’s also extremely grateful for her community.

“I am very thankful for the prayers of this community and beyond,” she said. “My circle of friends are prayer warriors. They engaged others, so forth and so on. I believe this really made the difference.  

“My heart literally and figuratively is forever grateful.”