Archive for January, 2012

Nurse Saves Nonprofit Worker at School

Posted by cocreator on January 30, 2012
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For a while, Dec. 15 was like any other day for Robbin Goods.


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The violence-prevention educator with the nonprofit Community for New Direction was working with students at Ohio Avenue Elementary School on the city’s East Side. Then her heart stopped.

Robbin Goods the Survivor and Tamara Harris the Saviour

“They said I was laughing, and I sort of just keeled over,” Goods said recently.

She was told that a nurse grabbed the school’s automatic external defibrillator — a device that delivers an electrical shock to stabilize heart rhythm — and attached it to Goods’ chest.

“After it shocked me the first time, I sort of came to,” she said.

Goods, 35, was taken to Grant Medical Center and was kept under observation for a week. She said doctors weren’t sure why she went into cardiac arrest but told her the school’s defibrillator kept her alive.

In Upper Arlington, where dozens of the devices have been placed in schools and city buildings, training is now part of monthly CPR classes.

“Most communities could probably benefit from it,” said Chris Moore, the training and EMS lieutenant for the Upper Arlington Fire Department.

Sayre compares the defibrillators to fire extinguishers and said the value of the equipment is appreciated only when something bad happens.

“The number (of AEDs) is increasing, but it’s still far too low,” he said.

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Friends Save Mother in School

Posted by cocreator on January 26, 2012
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Open house at Northwest Elementary School had all but ended.


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A couple of parents milled about in the hallways. Teachers were shutting down their classrooms. And Rhonda Smith, who came to the school that September evening to recruit Cub Scouts to her troop, was packing up materials.

Then Smith collapsed.

Two friends — J.R. and Tracy Hatfield — realized Smith, a 47-year-old mother of three, had experienced a heart attack. They began CPR and called the school’s staff into action.

“We did what my registered nurse trained us to do,” principal Tracy Graziaplene recalled.

They grabbed the school’s automatic external defibrillator, made sure someone had contacted 911, and got to work.

“That wonderful machine started talking to us,” Graziaplene said, referring to the AED’s robotic instructions. “It has everything there.”

Northwest was the first elementary school in Pasco County to get a defibrillator, about a year earlier. Last fall it became the first Pasco school to record a “save” using one.

“People were on campus ready to respond,” district nursing supervisor Lisa Kern said. “It was a wonderful thing.”

After four months of recovery, Smith visited the School Board on Tuesday to offer her thanks.

“Without that machine in the school, I wouldn’t have even been alive to get into the ambulance,” Smith, who “coded” at least seven times on the way to the hospital, said after the meeting. “I’m grateful for the taxpayers paying their taxes … to keep (the defibrillators) up to do the job. I’m so grateful for everyone.”

Smith, who now has an internal defibrillator, says the district expense is worth it if it saves another life.

“You’ve got to think of the budget cuts. I deal with budget cuts with my own kids,” she said. “I know there’s people out there who don’t feel the AED’s are necessary. … But what is a life worth? It’s like love, it’s unconditional.”

Given a new lease on her life, Smith said she intends to pay it forward. By no means a wealthy woman, she plans to do so with her time and energy, working with people who have handicaps.

“I think that’s why God put me here on this earth,” she said, listing among her projects the creation of a “special needs” Girl Scout troop.

Smith also works as a personal care assistant and supports her 13-year-old daughter, Katelynn, who’s a special needs cheerleader and Special Olympics athlete. She has been spending more time with her husband, Dwight, and their sons Alvin and Matthew.

And she has a new, less stressful outlook on the world.

“I’m closer to God. I’m closer to my children. I’m closer to my husband. I’m closer to the beauty of life,” Smith said. “I’m just happy to be alive.”

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Gym Staff Save Basketball Player

Posted by cocreator on January 25, 2012
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It’s a reunion that may have never happened.

“I was just looking at him and it seemed like he just took his last breath and it was like, uhhhh.”

Deanna “Dee” Norflee, never thought she would have to use an Automatic External Defibrillator or an A-E-D. She got training in March on the machine and in November she had to use it.

Bart Skinner the Survivor with Deanna Norflee the Saviour

“I came into the gym and I saw him kneeling over right here in this exact spot,” she says.

Bart Skinner, 55, was just playing basketball on the same hard wood floors LeBron James did when he lived in Akron.

“My buddy’s girlfriend looked at me and said, ‘Bart you don’t look too good,’ and she said I told her I don’t feel good and that’s about all I remember.”

A call to 9-1-1 and the decision to grab the A-E-D saved Skinner’s life.

“When it said press the button we are ready to go,” said Norflee.

Bart was out for three minutes before being treated by the AED.

E-M-S arrived in minutes and took over the situation.

Bart is alive, and well and thankful for AED’s

“I think there a blessing and I’m glad for them and I’m glad I have training on them,” says Skinner.

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Firefighters & Students Save News Anchorwoman on the Street

Posted by cocreator on January 25, 2012
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A few short months ago, the odds were heavily stacked against her survival and her chances of resuming a normal life; but as KDKA-TV News Anchor Susan Koeppen returns to work at the anchor desk for the first time since November, she’s sharing her story in the hopes that it may inspire more people to learn what to do to save a life.

After 7 years reporting for CBS News in New York, Susan came home to Pittsburgh and joined KDKA-TV last fall.

Susan Koeppen the Survivor

Life was kind of chaotic, but in a good way. She was busy with work, busy with her husband Jim; and especially with their three little kids. On top of all that, Susan had begun training for a half-marathon. She’d just run a 5K in October; and on November 20th, she hooked up with her friends and fellow runners, Gabey Gosman and Beth Sutton. “Hey let’s go out for a couple of miles, do a couple miles on a Sunday morning,” Susan recounts. “Go home, go on with our day.”

It seemed like a good plan — at least until the women were on the home stretch on Negley Avenue in Shadyside. Beth had just asked Susan if she was OK, having noticed that she didn’t look good. “She said ‘ No, no. Old girl’s gonna power through.’ I said alright so we kept running.”

In fact, Beth says Susan surged ahead of her friends; but then, stopped. “[She] put her hands on her knees and kind of bent over like she was trying to catch her breath, then she put her right hand back and kind of sat herself back down on the ground and lay down. And knowing Susan, she’s kinda funny anyways, so I… ran upon her and said , ‘Susan, that was quite a burst of energy you had there,’ and she was gasping for air just like she was winded and out of breath. And I bent over her and I looked down. I said, ‘Do you need some water?’ and she didn’t respond. She was still gasping for air, so I put my arm underneath her back and I lifted her up cause I had a water bottle on my arm and I said – I looked at her again, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Gabey, there’s something wrong,’ and at that point her eyes rolled in the back of her head and I laid her down and she started to convulse.”

Gabey happens to be a physician — a fertility specialist. As a doctor, she knew this was a serious situation; but it was still hard for her to comprehend. “I think there’s an element of denial because it’s a friend who’s young and healthy, and there’s like a bunch of ‘this is not happening.’”

But it quickly became clear that it was a life or death emergency and they needed help. They flagged down Vanessa Franco and Ranmal Samarasinghe, who pulled over to find Susan in cardiac arrest and turning blue.

As third year medical students, they’d done CPR plenty of times — on mannequins; but never on a human being. “I was taking her pulse and watching her breathe while [Vanessa] was doing the compressions,” Ranmal explained. “And I was just trying so hard,” Vanessa added, “and I kept yelling her name ‘cause someone told me her name was Susan, so I just kept yelling, ‘Come on, come on Susan!’… I was terrified of losing her and I mean, I mean, I don’t know — I just went into automatic mode and just like did everything I could.”

Responding to a neighbor’s 911 call, Lt. Dan Elias’ crew from the city’s Engine 8 arrived. “We jumped out of the rig and pretty much, there wasn’t a word spoken, really.”

Elias took over the compressions, while William Gorham and John Mares hooked up an automatic external defibrillator. They shocked Susan’s heart, right there on the sidewalk; but even after, to Vanessa, it didn’t look good. Maybe she remembered learning that nine out of ten people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital don’t make it.

“I’ve seen people get shocked and suddenly come, you know, have a lot more life to them — and she wasn’t,” Vanessa explained, “and I was like, I was just deathly afraid for her.”

Everyone there was afraid; except for Susan. “It didn’t really happen to me; it did, but it didn’t,” Susan recalled. “I feel sorry for these guys and for my husband. They were with me, she was cradling me in her arms as I was dying — that’s something she’s never gonna forget and she’s not gonna get that out of her mind; and my husband ran to the scene and saw me on the ground. He’s never gonna forget that. They can’t get it out of their minds, but for me it was just black.”

Because she didn’t come to, the immediate fear as she arrived at Shadyside Hospital was brain damage. No one had to explain that to Susan’s husband, Jim O’Toole — himself an M.D. He estimated that Susan’s heart had stopped or been short-circuiting for about six minutes. “The terrifying thing — aside from the whole experience — is when you get outside of five minutes, the potential for severe brain injury goes up significantly ,” Jim added, “and if you get beyond 7 minutes, meaningful recovery is not expected.”

Doctors then began chilling her body — a protective therapy that greatly reduced her need for oxygen.

Her fate would be a mystery for at least 24 hours. “That whole time frame, I have no idea what’s gonna be at the end of it,” added Jim. “I don’t know what her brain function’s going to be — is it going to be Susan or some, some awfully intangible version of her that’s not the woman I married — and that was as tough as anything.”

His thoughts turned to their three children. “I had to legitimately decide or think about whether or not I was capable of being a single father of three, the oldest of which was 6, and having that be a legitimate thought and having to concretely think about that and then think about what the next step would be is not an easy thing to think about.”

As Susan emerged from the therapeutic hypothermia, she gradually became more responsive. Jim was there when her respirator was removed and she spoke for the first time.

She didn’t know she was in the hospital or what had happened to put her there.

“The only word that really explains it is desperation,” Jim said. “I went from that to being the happiest man on the planet, because I realized we had just been lucky enough to survive through something we had no business surviving through.”

“We talk about it a lot, which is actually — is therapeutic, you know.” Susan said — choking up a little. “You know, I have not gotten emotional at all about it, but sitting here with these guys and knowing that, you now, we just went for a run that day. We’re just three moms chugging along and you know, I went down for the count. How does that happen? Wow. But I’m here. Obviously, it wasn’t my time.”

This was not a typical heart attack due to blocked arteries or an unhealthy lifestyle. Doctors blamed it on a heart abnormality Susan knew about. She now has a new little “appliance” in her chest and she’s facing heart surgery to repair a faulty cardiac valve.

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Grandmother Saves Hockey Player in Arena

Posted by cocreator on January 25, 2012
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She helped save a man’s life after he collapsed during a hockey game, but Rose Wood chalked it up to a defibrillator and team work.


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“My best friend is there on that wall,” the fitness instructor said, pointing to the defibrillator hanging outside the community arenas at the WFCU Centre where she teaches fitness classes and staffs the reception desk.

Rose Wood the Saviour

On Friday at around 8 p.m., she was at the desk when a man ran out of a pickup hockey game telling her to call 911. Another player had collapsed on his way off the ice.

Right away, Wood’s safety training and her people-organizing skills kicked in.

“It was a team effort,” the 54-year-old grandmother of four boys said.

She instructed the other desker to call an ambulance, grabbed the defibrillator off the wall, rushed into the arena to where the man — who she can only describe as in his 40s and little heavy — was lying on the black rubber floor.

“I just did it,” Wood said, describing how she got down on the ground, shouted for help to get the man’s hockey jersey off, and asked a woman nearby to help her put the defibrillator pads on the man’s chest and under his right arm.

The other 20 or so people were told to stand back when she pressed the button on the defibrillator to release the electric charge.

“He jumped,” Wood said about the shock sent to the man’s heart. “I had never seen that before.”

She gave mouth-to-mouth while she instructed the woman nearby — whom Wood said she did not recognize, but would like to thank for her help — to do chest compressions on the man.

“It seemed like hours,” Wood said. “I yelled, ‘Where is that ambulance?’”

One player was posted to the arena entrance to hail the ambulance, a second was given the task of clearing a path in the crowd for the paramedics, and a third was told to help emergency workers cross the ice safely.

Doug Sweet, who manages the arena, said he could not confirm who the man was or where he was taken to hospital, but he said he believed he was taken to a hospital in Detroit.

“We know he’s doing well,” Sweet said, adding that all the staff are very proud of how Wood managed the situation.

“I just bawled my eyes out,” Wood said, describing her reaction once the paramedics took over. “I couldn’t stop,” she said, adding that she was still shaking a little on Monday night.

Wood regularly goes through safety training as a fitness instructor, but she has never had to put her skills into practice in real life, she said, despite having worked in this field since 1987.

“I never want to do it again, but if I have to, I have no qualms,” she said. In fact, she added jokingly, she wants to find out just how long the whole process took so that if she has to do it again, she can beat her time.

Wood joked that the defibrillator is the real hero of the story and thinks she might give the little machine a name, but the experience has made her more aware of where defibrillators are in public places, whether it’s at the mall where she was running errands on the weekend, or at the arena where her grandchildren play hockey in Belle River.

The arena has eight defibrillators, Sweet said, adding that since it opened, there have been six heart attacks.

With thousands of people attending games and playing games each night, he said, it’s almost inevitable one will happen at some point, but thanks to the defibrillators and trained staff, the arena is prepared for this type of emergency.

The staff are trained annually in CPR and defibrillator use and undergo quarterly emergency training.

“Everybody in these situations works as a team,” Sweet said.

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