In honor of RescueStat’s 20th anniversary, I have decided to write a series of blog posts about my personal experience with sudden cardiac arrest and the learning journey that I have been on since I decided to acquire RescueStat in July of 2019.
My first post starts way back in time with my dad, Sterling Dixon, who was my best friend and would end up a victim of SCA. My dad and I had always been fellow adventurers in the Uinta and Wasatch mountains and red-rock country of Utah. Our preferred mode of travel was dirt bikes, but we also loved to hike and get off the grid.
I learned many life lessons on these outings that would later shape my core values and outlook on the world. On one warm summer afternoon during a multi-day trip in the High Uintas, my dad, older brother Greg, and I found ourselves in a world of hurt. One moment we had been fishing in the warm summer sun in our cutoff t-shirts, but a few minutes later hail was painfully bouncing off the bones of our skinny 9 and 11-year-old-shoulders. We rushed and huddled under a large pine tree and my dad said, “Okay boys, we need to make it back to camp before we freeze to death. I need you to reach deep down into your guts to get us out of here!” We made it back to our camp and successfully dried off and listened to the apocalyptic storm.
I knew that I was safe from that storm that day with my dad nearby. As I got older, as my Scout Master, he continued to teach me that I could survive on my own and take the lead. He would take opportunities in the outdoors to make analogies and teach life lessons. I remember looking down on a huge rock slide on the top of Mount Timpanogos one sunny afternoon. Dad explained how each of us are like those millions of rocks, different and unique and with edges but part of a beautiful and complex whole. Other times, he astounded me with simple but unexpected responses to my questions. “Dad, what’s the difference between me and that CEO?” My Dad’s response, “the key difference is merely 20 years. One of the great secrets to life is that even grown-up women and men don’t have it all figured out. They are just more comfortable with ambiguity.” That lesson empowered me then and continues to teach me today.
Later, as a newlywed in 2016, I was startled awake at 2:00 am by a phone call from my mother who was obviously in shock. She told me that my Dad had just passed away. It was his 63rd birthday. How could this be? My dad was an active adult who ate healthy foods, maintained a healthy weight, and had never used tobacco, coffee or alcohol due to his religious beliefs. My questions were not answered at the time and I didn’t know it then, but this moment would end up affecting many aspects of my life. Between then and now, I would go on an incredible journey of learning that would include moving to Brazil, being screened for heart disease, acquiring RescueStat with incredible partners, and learning that normal people can make a dramatic impact in real people’s lives by becoming first responders when SCA strikes.
My dad’s passing was devastating to my life and I am sad that we are no longer fellow weekend warriors. I don’t believe you ever completely get over the passing of a good friend or family member when they have made such significant impact upon your life. Although I don’t have him anymore and my kids will only ever learn of him through the stories I tell, I am grateful for the lessons he taught me and the things I have learned. One of our RescueStat core values is grit, and when I think of grit I am reminded of hailstorms and the phrase,