Thanks to the intervention of a volunteer doctor, a Rio Linda man who suffered a heart attack on the first day of the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 9 made it back in time to rock out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the band closed out the three-day event Aug. 11.
Barry “Bear” Waite, 52, suffered the heart attack at the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park right after the Smith Westerns finished their set.
Police and staff from Rock Medicine, the organization that staffs Bay Area rock concerts with volunteer medical professionals, responded to the emergency. Among the volunteer crew was an emergency doctor who performed an electrocardiogram, or EKG, on Waite.
“When the doctor hooked him up to the EKG, she saw the abnormalities, did a second report to verify her findings, and was able to stabilize him and call ahead to the hospital,” said Mary Conde, a production coordinator at concert organizer Another Planet Entertainment.
Waite underwent surgery at a local hospital within an hour, which included receiving a stent in his heart, Conde said.
Waite credited not only the ER doctor but the entire Rock Medicine staff.
“From the guys who responded to the main stage area to the team in the tent, they all saved my life,” Waite said. “Without them, I would have been dead in less than one hour.”
The life-threatening medical condition didn't ruin Waite's weekend.
“After spending Friday and Saturday in the ICU I was released on Sunday and returned to the festival (with a wheelchair of course) to see my favorite band the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” he wrote in a thank-you letter to Another Planet.
Gordon Oldham, the director of Rock Medicine, said two shifts of 80 volunteer medical professionals provided care for attendees. Nearly 300 people received various treatments, and not just for intoxication, but for a wide range of complications that included ankle injuries and bee stings, Oldham said.
While heart attacks aren't common at such an event, Oldham said, Rock Medicine has been seeing more of that sort of condition when older acts such as Paul McCartney and the Eagles are performing.
“The crowd itself is getting older,” he said.
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