When she collapsed at the gym, people rushed to help. Months later, she got to thank them

Wendy Yamada has run 10 marathons and is full of energy,
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 2:10 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wendy Yamada has run 10 marathons and is full of energy,

But in January, while working out Transformations gym in Hilo, she turned to friend Susie Dill and said she felt tired.

Then, the 55-year-old collapsed.

“There was no response. She was kind of crumpled over the bench,” Dill said.

That’s when trainer Garrett Hall stepped in, starting CPR and using an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED.

“The client brings the defibrillator over. We put the defibrillator on Wendy and it checks her pulse and it doesn’t have a pulse. We give her the shock of the defibrillator. Keep doing CPR,” said Hall.

Dill added: “It was really terrifying because she didn’t look good at all. Her body was limp.”

Hospital photos from the Yamada family show how close to death she got.

“I heard she was out for close to 45 minutes and he (Hall) refused to give up along with the paramedics. If that hadn’t happened Wendy would not be here today,” said husband Gerald Yamada.

After first responders arrived and administered life-saving techniques, she was rushed to Hilo Medical Center and later airlifted to Straub Medical Center.

“We are super grateful for everyone along the way that helped my mom,” said daughter Kaitlyn Yamada.

Five months later, Yamada has fully recovered and it’s a mystery why she went into cardiac arrest.

This week at the Haihai Fire Station in Hilo, she thanked the professional and impromptu first responders who were commended for their actions.

“It’s crazy. Last time I saw her she was on the ground in the gym. It’s surreal to tell you the truth,” said Nathan Lee, fire medical specialist.

Wendy Yamada’s voice was a little hoarse, but her gratitude powerful.

“I really just want to say thank you to every single one of you that was there on that day because every step of the way I had the right help,” said Yamada.