The Nominees

The Nominees

Eligible nominees are individuals who helped save the life of an SCA victim, but had no work-related duty to respond to the victim. Lifesaving actions could include one or more of the following: Calling 9-1-1, providing CPR or chest compressions, using an automated external defibrillator (AED). Self-nominations are welcome and encouraged. 2012 Nominees follow.

Jennifer Chap

Rick My name is Rick Chap, and I live in Orlando, Florida. I’m a 56 year-old SCA survivor. I would like to nominate Jennifer Chap, my wife, for the 2012 People Saving People Award. My SCA occurred on February 27, 2012, in our home. Here’s our story and why Jennifer is my hero…

We own a strategic marketing/research firm that we operate from our home. February 27th started out as usual. Jennifer was in her office on a conference call with our client. And, I was in the kitchen getting a second cup of coffee, when SCA struck me. This story would have ended here had it not been for one of our beloved cats, Buddy. Buddy was in Jennifer’s office and must have sensed something was terribly wrong. He unusually started acting up, meowing and jumping to get her attention. She picked him up to relocate him, only to find me on our kitchen floor gasping for air. With the phone in her hand, she immediately dialed 911.

The dispatcher worked quickly to get help on the way. But within a matter of seconds, I was in full cardiac arrest and took my last breath in her arms. Jennifer knew instinctively that she had to start CPR and told the operator. It had been 20+ years since her CPR class, but she was aware that the protocol was chest compressions only to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.” So she got all 220 pounds of me flat on the floor and began dispatcher-assisted chest compressions.

She delivered more than 300 compressions until Orlando Fire Department EMS arrived and took over. They shocked me once—enough to restart my heart. They intubated me and transported me to Orlando Health hospital, where I got incredible emergency cardiac care. I was cared for by amazing doctors and nurses. And after being placed in hypothermia and getting a stent in my LAD, on Day 11, I came home.

My nurses nicknamed me Miracle Man, because I have no heart muscle damage and no brain damage. I’m especially grateful for my Jennifer and my cat Buddy. For without their intervention, I would not be telling this story.

I believe Jennifer deserves recognition as my “wifesaver.” She stayed calm, immediately dialed 911, correctly assessed the situation, and performed effective CPR that saved my life and gave me the chance for my miraculous outcome. And, she has stayed by my side ever since, as my partner in all this… supporting my recovery.

And, now as a team we plan to pay it forward as CPR instructors very soon. We hope to train others and share our story. I am living proof that CPR saves lives… and the life you save may be someone you love.

Nominated by Rick Chap , Orlando, Florida

Ron Servicky

The Servicky Family It is my pleasure to nominate Ron Servicky for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s People Saving People award. Ron showed incredible strength and courage when his mother collapsed while eating lunch with her husband in the kitchen of their Charlotte, NC home on November 8, 2011.
Helen Servicky stopped breathing and suddenly slumped over in her chair at the table. Her husband witnessed the arrest and yelled for the couple’s son, Ron to help.

Ron, a location manager for a national television show, was not supposed to be in town that day—however filming had wrapped early that week, and he just happened to be at home. He ran to help his father, and the two men got Helen onto the floor. Ron started giving her rescue breaths while his dad called 911, then passed the phone to Ron. It was an incredibly emotional situation, with both men doing their best to get Helen back.

Ron had not been formally trained in CPR since he was a child in the boy scouts decades ago. He stayed on the phone with the 911 dispatcher who talked him through chest compressions until first responders got there. Ron performed compressions for several minutes, and says afterward he remembers slumping into a corner and watching in awe as the Mecklenburg EMS Agency (Medic) crew work to save his mother’s life.

Helen’s pulse returned before transport to the hospital even began, and she has made a complete recovery. In April 2012, Helen, her husband and Ron were all reunited with the 911 dispatcher and Medic crew who worked together to save her life that day. Ron says the dispatcher, Kim, was his guardian angel that day and kept him going during an extremely stressful situation.

On the 911 call, after the Medic crew left the home with Helen and was heading to the hospital, you can hear a first responder tell Ron “If she survives, it’s because of what you did.” It is because of his quick actions that his mother is still alive today. She is a loving, quick-witted woman who says heaven just wasn’t ready yet for a woman like her. Her story of survival has inspired many, and will soon be featured on a national TV show to highlight the importance of people learning bystander CPR.

Ron kept the chain of survival intact without hesitation. His actions were selfless and he doesn’t hesitate to tell people the importance of learning CPR. It is for these countless reasons that he deserves to be recognized for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s People Saving People award.

Nominated by Helen Servicky , Charlotte, NC

James Collins, Jhorman Gomez, John (Jay) Richardson, Mike Johnson

Turkey Point Power Plant Heroes These four gentlemen deserve this special recognition, due to their willingness to get involved to save their co-worker’s life. Mr. Jhorman Gomez related that about one month prior to Mr. Kowalchuk’s cardiac arrest, he was aware of another employee that was observed sitting in a chair for a prolonged period of time. When someone finally checked on him he was unresponsive. Jhorman states that Fire Rescue was called but no one did anything until EMS was on the scene. He states he watched the paramedics perform CPR, but unfortunately this co-worker did not survive. Jhorman vowed he would take action if anything like this happened again.

On July 12, 2011, a similar scenario happened. His friend and co-worker Ken Kowalchuk, slumped in his chair while in the cafeteria. He saw people hovering around Ken but not doing anything. He rushed to his side, laid him down on the floor and initiated cardiac compressions, as he had observed the paramedics do. James Collins and Mike Johnson both assisted with the CPR efforts. John Richardson ran to get the AED, and fearfully pushed the button, when the AED declared, “Shock Required”. John shocked him a minimum of 3 times. They continued their efforts for at least 20 minutes, until fire rescue was on the scene and took over.

Mr. Kowalchuk was brought to Homestead Hospital’s Emergency Department, where he finally had return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC). However, he was comatose. Therapeutic hypothermia was started, 24 hours later he was rewarmed without any neurological deficits. He was diagnosed as having a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). Six days after his admission to Homestead Hospital, he was transferred to South Miami Hospital for a cardiac catheterization and then underwent cardiac bypass surgery. He fully recovered and returned to work. Upon his return, he had to keep telling James, Jhorman, Mike and John to quit hovering over him.
Without the quick thinking and willingness to get involved by Jhorman, John, James and Mike, Ken would not have survived. None of these men had the responsibility to perform CPR or use an AED as part of their job duties, but they did what needed to be done. Their actions enabled the paramedics, nurses and physicians to complete the chain of survival.

Nominated by Rosemary Lee , Homestead, FL

Rita Casper, Maura Eisenhood

Daniel Grecoe I was in the gym with a friend at around 6:15AM on September 19th when I was struck down with an SCA. During the incident I bit off a piece of my tongue and was bleeding from the mouth. None of the people who stepped forward to help me knew anything about me, other than they had perhaps seen me there before. Not a single one of my rescuers ,Rita, Maura or Richard (whom I've not had contact with per his wishes), hesitated for a second when I was in critical need of their assistance.
I realize you will receive dozens of nominees. To both myself and my family the nominees I've put forward will always hold a special place in our hearts and minds. Their true selflessness deserves to be recognized.

Read Dan’s story here and as reported in the press here

Nominated by Daniel Grecoe, Andover, MA

Mark Miller

Mark & Jenna Miller My husband Mark and I were married July 26, 2008. We were recent college grads, in love, and ready to start our life together. Little did we know how challenging the road ahead would be. Soon after our wedding we found out we were pregnant with our daughter, Kaylee. We were ecstatic and looked forward to her arrival. A few months after Kaylee’s birth I noticed that I was feeling extremely fatigued, had a noticeable loss of appetite, and persistent heart palpitations. Of course I chalked most of my symptoms up to being a new mom running on little sleep. I eventually decided to have an echocardiogram performed since I did have a history of mitral valve prolapse.

Two nights later Mark found me on the floor having a seizure. After a short stay at the emergency room I was sent home. Shortly after that, I visited with my cardiologist to receive the results of my echocardiogram. Nothing would prepare us for the diagnosis of postpartum cardiomyopathy. Heart failure related to the pregnancy. We were absolutely stunned. I was 24, healthy, and active. The next couple of years were spent in and out of doctor’s offices and taking a daily dose of beta blockers and ace inhibitors. After over a year of medication my heart was finally pumping at “normal”. Little did we know that we were about to jump an even bigger hurdle.

On August 7, 2011 Mark was once again awakened by the sound of me gasping. He knows immediately that something is wrong. He recalls me taking a “last breath” then I lay lifeless. He put his ear to my chest and heard no heart beat. At this point he knows that he needs to take action. He calls the 911 operator and she is able to walk him through chest compressions. As my skin began to change color Mark was sure this was it. He had lost me. After 20 minutes of compressions the paramedics arrived. I received two shocks. Mark said that as they were wheeling me out of the house he heard them say, “We’ve got a pulse”. I spent the next five days in ICU at which time I had an ICD placed.

My survival is a miracle. God orchestrated every moment of the event so that the right people were in the right place at the right time. Surviving cardiac arrest at my home would not have been possible without the quick action of my husband and the steps he took to perform compressions until help arrived. People are often interested in hearing my story, but I really see this as our story. He is a vital part of my survival. He is my hero and I cherish the time I have with him and our daughter. I hope you will consider honoring him for his bravery.

Nominated by Jenna Miller, TX

Scott Harden, Pete Walka, Ron Knoll

KathieI would like to nominate Scott Harden, who was my husband at the time, that I fell victim to sudden cardiac arrest. I would also like to nominate Pete Walka (Battalion Chief) and his crew with Guardian Medical Transport, Ron Knoll (our neighbor) and the 911 dispatcher (Kim). Our lives changed forever on Tuesday, November 18, 2008. I was 33 years old, a teacher, and a mother of 2. I went into cardiac arrest while sleeping at our home in Bellemont, AZ, about 12 miles west of Flagstaff. Scott recognized the "gasping"; being trained in 1st responders he began sternum rubs and then chest compressions.

I believe all of the individuals above deserve this nomination because they, as a team, saved my life! Scott recognized the "gasping"; being trained in 1st responders he began sternum rubs, called 911 and then began chest compressions. He recognized the trouble I was in and didn't think twice about what to do. The quick thinking dispatcher called Ron Knoll, an off duty neighbor/co-worker of Scott's, to assist with the chest compressions until medical personnel arrived at our home. I was given multiple shocks to my heart and and injections into my shin bone marrow (using a drill~I later learned...YIKES)! I was told that Pete Walka had just recently learned how to do the bone marrow injections, I was his first patient. I even have the scar to prove it! :) I was also the first patient on FMC's new hydrotherapy beds, where the bags of ice were consistently breaking.

I still keep in contact with Pete, we get together on the anniversary of my episode. I am truly grateful to everyone involved in my event and the support I have since received. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the people that are now a part of my life. There are many others I am thankful for--from my family, co-workers, additional neighbors, church families, ER/ICU nurses and doctors, and therapists (the list goes on). Not one of the individuals above takes credit for saving my life, but I know and truly believe I would not be here, raising two beautiful children if it wasn't for them...ALL of them!

I appreciate your consideration in recognizing my heroes.

To read Kathie's story, click here

Nominated by Kathie Reilly, Flagstaff, AZ

Ron Noe, Ray Trevino, & Captain Frank Meyer

Capt Matt TaylorI am pleased to nominate the team of FAA Inspector Ron Noe, FAA Inspector Ray Trevino, American Airlines pilot Captain Frank Meyer and a second, unidentified, American Airlines pilot for the People Saving People Award. Though they had not worked together as a team prior to the sudden cardiac arrest that Capt. Matt Taylor suffered, they immediately worked together to give Capt. Taylor a “second chance at life”!

Ron and Ray are Aviation Safety Inspectors in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They are not trained medical personnel and their job does not require them to perform CPR or use an AED. But, when FAA offered CPR/AED training at their facility through a contract with Emergency University, they volunteered. They invested about 3 ½ hours in the training.

Then, on the morning of December 16, 2011, they went to the American Airlines Training Facility at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport in Texas to conduct routine inspections. When they went to the cafeteria between inspections, they heard what sounded like snoring. They looked around the corner and saw Capt. Taylor, a healthy 51-year old male American Airlines pilot, lying on the floor, unconscious, with labored breathing.

Ray checked for a pulse, and thought he felt one. Capt. Taylor’s breathing slowed, then stopped, and his lips turned blue. Ron saw an AED cabinet nearby and retrieved the airway mask. He and the unidentified pilot began CPR. Frank heard the alarm, brought the AED to Ray, and they attached it to Capt. Taylor. The AED read the heart rhythm, and advised a shock. They stood back and pressed the button. The AED delivered the shock and advised them to resume CPR, which they did. Within about 30 seconds, Capt. Taylor’s color returned, and he soon regained consciousness. As Ron phrased it, “It was like his soul returned.”

There were many people in the cafeteria at the time, standing back (way back!) and just watching. Only these four men responded. When the paramedics arrived, they credited the prompt actions of these four as making the difference between life and death. They took Capt. Taylor to the hospital and he was discharged, fully functional, in time to spend the holidays with his family.

A couple of months later, his wife gave birth to their daughter. Capt. Taylor recently said “If it were not for those guys, my daughter would never know what it is like to be held and loved by her father.”

Nominated by Thomas T. Holloway, Washington, DC

Matt Graham & Dennis Downs

On Saturday, June 16, 2012 at Runyon Sports Complex in Pueblo, CO, two field managers were prepping a baseball field using "squeegees" to push water off the infield after a rain storm. This complex consists of seven baseball fields where many tournaments are held all summer. A 67-year-old man came to help from the stands and suddenly collapsed in arrest.

Matt Graham, one of groundsmen, immediately phoned 911 then began CPR; he directed a person to the front of the complex to meet EMS crews to be able to bring them in quickly to the correct field within this large complex. The other manager, Dennis Downs, ran about 100 yards to where their AED is located near the concession area and returned with it to the victim. In 35 seconds, he removed clothing, prepped the chest, placed pads, the unit analyzed and he delivered the shock. When EMS crews arrived, the victim had a blood pressure and was breathing on his own. He underwent successful cardiac surgery and is now home recovering.

I wanted to nominate them as I am very proud on how well both these lay rescuers responded in this highly stressful event. They did everything perfectly and a man is alive to prove it. I am the AED specialist who implemented their program and trained them and this just reinforces what I do.

Also, the irony is that the baseball tournament that day was in memory of a man who died nine years ago at a tournament in Denver and his son was in the stands to witness the "save".

Nominated by Richard Perse, Arvada, CO

Brian Hutchins

Brian Hutchins On August 15, 2011, Delores DuMond, a 77-year-old woman from Hudson, NY, was enjoying lunch at the Beekman Arms Restaurant, in Rhinebeck, NY. When she suddenly fell into sudden cardiac arrest, her life was saved by bystanders who called 911, performed CPR and utilized an AED on site to save her life. The victim was conscious before the ambulance arrived.

While an employee called 911, an unidentified nurse in the restaurant began CPR and restaurant patron, Brian Hutchins, Rhinebeck, NY, utilized an AED located on site at the Beekman Arms to deliver the lifesaving shock.

Brian deserves special recognition because he recognizes the importance of gaining CPR and AED skills, as well as the importance of public access AED programs. Brian took time out of his busy schedule as a business person and parent to become trained in these lifesaving skills should he ever need them. As a bystander, Brian took action. He didn’t sit idle when he heard someone needed assistance. He does not consider himself a hero, but we know he is! Brian now encourages others to be trained in these lifesaving skills and he is quick to point out how crucial it was to have an AED available on site.

Nominated by Linda Cotter-Forbes, Rhinebeck, NY

Claude Kalev

I would like to nominate my rescuer, Claude [and Cathy] Kalev for the People Saving People award. Claude happen to be nearby when I was a victim of SCA. He had no formal training in CPR but had heard his wife ( a nurse ) describe the procedure at the dinner table many times.
I'm a 55-year-old man who stays in good shape, exercises regularly and had no history of heart problems. I was at work in the warehouse when I collapsed. Several people saw me and realized I was in distress. Claude quickly took charge and started CPR while directing another to call 911. He continued until the EMTs arrived. I was shocked five times and still my heart would not start. I continued to receive CPR until I arrived at the hospital. I was in the hospital for a week and made a full recovery. The doctors found no cause for the SCA. I'm sure I would have died or had brain damage if Claude had not been there with the courage to intervene and with the knowledge that Cathy had given him.

Nominated by Ken Keller, Reseda, CA

Cheryl Powell

I would like to nominate my employer Cheryl Powell, as my rescuer for the People Saving People award. Without the quick response of my friend dialing 911, I would not be here today. My name is Marilyn Inductivo and on April 30, 2011, I died. Thanks to the phone call that Cheryl made to 911, the Carmel, CA, emergency medical team was able to start the rescue process and I was then transported to the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, where they were still trying to revive me. I was in a coma for seven days. I was not expected to make it, but because of the rescue team, starting with Cheryl, the EMT of Carmel, the nurses, coctors of CHOMP, and of course the many prayers that were sent to me by my friends and family, I can see my future ahead.

I wish I could nominate everyone involved! But to me the one that stands out in my eyes is my employer Cheryl Powell.

Nominated by Marilyn Inductivo, Marina CA

Bianca Weber

Stefan & BiancaMy daughter, Bianca Weber, joined the Chatham Emergency Squad shortly after her 16th birthday and has now been an EMT for three years. Bianca is also a sophomore nursing major at The College of New Jersey, where she is the crew chief on the Tuesday night EMS crew. Bianca has donated much of her time to helping others in emergency situations, however her calm and swift decisions on July 4, 2012, are commendable and worthy of recognition.

Bianca used her lifesaving skills on July 4, 2012 to save her father's (Stefan) life. Stefan, who is a cyclist, had just returned from his morning ride and was in the driveway of our home when he called Bianca before collapsing. Bianca was home alone and ran outside to help; she called 911 and began treating Stefan for what was initially believed to be a seizure. While awaiting the arrival of the local police and Emergency Squad, Stefan went into cardiac arrest and Bianca began performing CPR. Upon the arrival of the police, Bianca then used their AED machine to deliver the shock that would restart my husband's heart. The ambulance crew arrived to find Stefan still unconscious, but breathing and with a pulse. Stefan spent 30+ hours on a ventilator in a medically induced coma under a cardiologist's care in the critical care unit. He then spent four days in the general cardiac unit before being sent home today, to continue with his rehabilitation and recuperation from heart surgery and a concussion.

The Cardiovascular team at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute are amazed at Stefan's rapid recovery, and have praised Bianca for her swift and knowledgeable action. Not only did she save my husband's life, but Stefan is also expected to make a full recovery. Bianca attributes her lifesaving reaction as merely performing her role as "Daddy's little girl."

"I had to step up to the plate," she said, "and luckily EMS gave me the skills to do so."

Nominated by Marion Weber, Chatham, NJ

Stephen Gaylord Rich

Stephen & TinaBecause of my husband's quick actions and his willingness to do something about my collapse in front of him, I am alive today. Without his performing CPR and artificial respirations, I wouldn't be here today. This event occurred at the end of a very long, busy day working outside for both of us. He could have given up, he could have panicked, but he didn't. He had the presence of mind to start CPR, call 911 and to keep working on me until the paramedics arrived 15 minutes later. As I was in the hospital for two weeks following my event, my husband made medical decisions for me, kept my family and friends informed of my progress and continued to care for our two-year-old son. In addition, when I was moved to a hospital over an hour away from home, he continued to drive everyday and sometimes two times a day to be by my side and to help me understand what was happening to me and to advocate for me.

As I continue to heal and try to make progress in my life, my husband is my encourager and even now when he is in his own pain from having been in a car accident in January, he puts my needs first. He continues to attend appointments with me and to drive me when I am feeling tired and overwhelmed. He does a lot of the cooking and he is so patient and understanding as I work to recover the skills I lost or to learn new ways of doing things. He is working to learn as much as he can about what I am dealing with and I am so thankful for him. Whether he is awarded this honor or not, my husband is my hero every day. Without him, I wouldn't be here.

Nominated by Tina Rich, Fort Meade, MD

Theodore Kauffman (plus Serena Kauffman, Rhiannon Kauffman & Holden Greene)

The-Kauffman's I owe my current life, physically, mentally and emotionally to the swift and dedicated actions of my family. I am a high school principal and my husband, Ted, is a math & science teacher. My husband was re-certified in CPR & AED use as part of his school staff training to start the new school year the week before my cardiac arrest. My eldest daughter, Rhiannon (19), a life guard, and her friend Holden (19), a Whitewater Raft Guide, were also recently trained that summer three months before the incident. My youngest daughter Serena at age 15 had just recently returned from an abroad exchange program in Brazil. She lived in Nova Fribrugo, a town that in January 2011, was devastated by floods and mudslides killing hundreds and evacuating most of the population, so she also understood the importance of first-responders to a scene. Our youngest Rio, age nine slept peacefully in his room.

To read Leigh's story, click here

Nominated by Leigh McGown Kauffman, Glenwood Springs, CO

Dana Heisserer and Diane Williams

Linda with Dana Heisserer and Diane Williams On March 22, 2007, Linda, Dana, and Diane showed up to what they thought was going to be a Sacred Heart Ladies' Guild board meeting.  Little did they know they were in for a lot more. Within minutes of the meeting starting, I passed out without any warning. Dana and Diane knew immediately that I needed help. They got me to the floor and took over. Dana started chest compressions and Diane was ready to breathe when needed. When EMS arrived about seven minutes after the beginning of this event, they were still giving CPR and had not stopped once. They knew my life was in their hands. Even though CPR in very physically demanding, Dana and Diane knew it was all I had.  Without them stepping forward, I would not be here today! I have had five more years with my family. I have seen both my girl's make their First Holy Communions. I have had five more anniversaries with my husband, and I have met my first niece and nephew.  I'm a survivor only because Dana and Diane knew CPR! They truly define the words: angels and heroes!

To read Linda's story, click here

Nominated by Linda Dickson, Florrisant, MO

Vanessa Franco and Ranmal Samarasinghe

Vanessa Franco, PhD, center, and Ranmal Samarasinge, left, medical students at the University of Pittsburgh, happened to be driving in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, when they noticed a woman had collapsed on the sidewalk.

They immediately started CPR. They are the heroes who saved the life of Susan Koeppen, right, KDKA TV news anchor. 

To read Susan's story, click here and here.

Nominated by Susan Koeppen, Pittsburgh, PA

Charles Sourbeer

I nominate Charles Sourbeer. He saved my life. From everything I’ve been told he was so cool under the pressure of providing me with CPR, giving orders to others on action they needed to take, and damned persistent in providing 20 minutes straight of CPR until the emergency responders arrived. I was glad he paid attention during the CPR class they had at his company 14 years prior to my cardiac arrest.

I was dead, but because of his heroics, the blood kept flowing through my body to my brain and I have not suffered any brain damage, and I am here to write you this message. Almost three years later, I live a quite normal life. 

To read Bill's story, click here.

Nominated by Bill Kushubar, Harrisburg, PA

Bob Huebner

I was asked to write a letter about the events of August 24, 2006. Unless you have lived such a day, time is irrelevant, and memory is mixed with what you are later told your actions where, along with what you think you did, and what you wish you had done. From my youth in boy scouting “Be Prepared” has echoed in my ears, I decided many years ago to do everything I could to try and live that motto. So this is my letter:

“To every man, there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique and fitted to his talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared and unqualified for the work that would be his finest hour." -Sir Winston Churchill 1942

August 24, 2006 started as any Thursday, but it would prove to be my finest hour. By the grace of God and all my experiences, many from scouting, I was able to perform a high standard of CPR and keep a young man alive until paramedics arrived. By chance, I had my pager on “scan all” instead of the Company 7 frequency, where I am a volunteer firefighter and EMT. At around 11:20 am my pager went off with a call for “Unknown Medical” at the Parks and Recreation building next door. I expected it would be for a sprained ankle or bloody nose, since the P&R is busy all summer with sporting events for youth out of school.

Knowing that it may be awhile before the ambulance and paramedic unit could come from the other side of town, I decided to take a walk over to see if I could assist. The company I work for, Z-Medica, respects the need for emergency response and allows me to respond to calls. When I was on the way there, an updated call came in, stating that it was an unconscious teenager on the basketball court and so I decided to take the first aid kit in my car (Be Prepared) with me as I now started to hurry because teenagers don’t go unconscious unless something bad happens!

I knocked on the back door entrance to the basketball court, and when it opened, I was surprised to see a young man on the floor with several people standing over him, along with one person holding his legs up in the air. When I asked what was the problem was, they said that he had passed out and was breathing irregularly. He was slightly blue and gasping (agonal breathing or what people have called the last gasp).

My many years of training by the American Heart Association went into action and I went into automatic mode. I was able to assess the young man’s condition. I asked a bystander to inform 911 and the medical units that we had a cardiac arrest, that I was performing CPR, and to come to the back door. I believe I also told someone else to make sure the door was open and to ensure they knew where to come in. For the last five years, I have carried on my belt a holder with gloves and a CPR mask given to me by a fellow Boy Scout leader from Troop 28 and a Meriden firefighter. (Be Prepared.)

I had just completed the AHA train the trainer 2005 standards that changed CPR to 2 breaths and 30 compressions. (Be Prepared.) I was able to do this for three cycles until the now alerted medics arrived. Fortune that day sent four full paramedics with all the tools and training to perform the next link in the chain.

They set up a defibrillator and administered drugs, along with gaining an airway with full O2. At this time, I became an assistant as the shock was administered from the AED and our young victim’s heart was restarted. The three most beautiful scenes I have seen in my life were when two sons came into the world—and when that screen showed a heart beat after the shock.

The young man was then transported to the hospital.
I said a prayer for his recovery, hit the reset button, cleaned up (took my gloves off), and went back to work. The odds for survival are not high unless many factors take place, but I knew in my heart I did everything that I could do. Still, I was afraid that it was too long of a time that he was down.

When I went back to the office, I called my wife Tracey who is a nurse and let her know what happened. She is one of the few people in my life who understands the stress and pain that comes with emergency situations.

When I went home, Tracey was waiting for me with a big hug and open heart, we talked awhile and I then broke down and cried my heart out as a parent thinking of my two boys and how precious life is. I was also thinking how unfair it seems at times. I can tell you, you either cry and get it out or hold it in and blow up.

We went out on our back deck to talk some more and pray for a good outcome. Just as we finished, we both saw a meteor streak through the sky. Tracey said it was a sign that he (I still did not know his name nine hours after the event) would be okay. I also felt in my heart that things would be better than other incidents, but did not want to build myself up just yet.

It was not until the next day that I talked to Chief Tim Wall and I found out Mike’s name and that he had made it through the night with a good chance of a fair recovery. Words cannot describe the feeling of joy I felt at that time. Later that day Chief Struble called me personally and told be about Mike’s condition and that the prognosis was good for a healthy recovery.

I realized my whole life had been steering me to do that one thing in life worth doing. Even though I am a member of the fire department and on many calls for medical emergencies, car accidents and other horrible incidents, that was always part of a team response and the outcome could either be success or failure, life or death. I will always be haunted by some cases that are untimely and seem terribly unfair. I pray every night for the strength and clarity of mind to do my best when called upon, wishing it would not come, but knowing that I belong to the few who respond to the horrors of what humans can do, and other sudden emergencies, knowing the next one is just a tick of the clock away.

I’ve been told I’m a hero…the paper even put it in the headlines in print. I personally don’t consider myself a hero, but what I do know is this:
On that fateful day, I was a firefighter, EMT, father, and yes, a Boy Scout who was prepared.

On that day, as Sir Winston Churchill stated, I was tapped on the shoulder and was prepared to do what was needed to be done. Yes, we may never need to use CPR or an AED and I pray that is so. But the next time, it may be someone very close to you, a complete stranger, or, it may be you! So please take this challenge and “Be Prepared.”

By Bob Huebner

To read Mike’s story, click here, here and here.

Nominated by Joan Papale, Wallingford, CT

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