That morning, Herrick was at his desk when he started to break out in a sweat. He called COC’s athletic trainer, Sarah Ehrsam, explained his condition, and asked her to come by his office to check his blood pressure. Sarah realized he would need immediate medical attention, and called 911. Within minutes, paramedics arrived and Herrick was transported by ambulance to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, where tests confirmed he was having a heart attack.
“As soon as we got to the ER, there was an incredible amount of action – everyone was moving – like an ant farm. It was an amazing reaction by the hospital staff,” says Herrick.
He was evaluated by a cardiologist, Dr. Jayanta Das, and was quickly moved to the hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab, where Dr. Das removed a blood clot and inserted a stent into one of Herrick’s arteries to improve his circulation.
The 64-year-old Valencia resident says it only took 30 minutes from the time he left COC to the stent’s
placement at Henry Mayo. He knows the quick response time saved his life. “My wife, Marilyn, a nurse, said if I’d arrived there five minutes later, I would’ve been dead,” says Herrick, who was reminded of his good fortune when actor Alan Thicke died from a cardiac condition at a local hospital in December.
“I was fortunate to be at COC, five minutes from Henry Mayo. I really believe the hospital, staff and everyone involved in my care saved my life. I got the best care I could get and the fastest response. I’ll never forget it. I owe my life to Henry Mayo, and Sarah for calling 911,” he adds.
Following two days in intensive care and a few weeks recuperating at home, Herrick began a 12-week program at Henry Mayo’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, where a team of nursing professionals established an individualized exercise program for him, in addition to providing education on weight loss, stress management, dietary habits and the importance of daily exercise.
While he preached conditioning and fitness to his basketball players at COC for more than 25 years, Herrick admits he fell short when it came to his own health. His diet consisted of junk food
s and late-night snacks with little or no exercise. He now eats healthier foods and exercises daily, which led to his 30-pound weight loss. His continued participation in the Cardiac Maintenance Program has helped him to preserve the strength and conditioning of his heart and maintain his overall level of fitness.
The father of three adult children and grandfather to a toddler still gets emotional when he thinks about the day he nearly died. “God has determined that I’m not done yet. I still have things to do. I will keep doing what I can do for as long as I’m around.”