“The last thing I remember is feeling as though I was losing my hearing and opening my mouth to say something,” said Mary Ellen Greb about the seconds before she went into cardiac arrest on July 9, 2012.
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Chief administration officer (CAO) with the Township of South-West Oxford, Greb was in a meeting at the Mt. Elgin Community Hall when she fell ill.
Seeing she was in trouble, people around her – including hall board members Dawn Fewster, Dave Lucas and Marg Green – reacted swiftly.
While a 911 call went out over a cell phone, Fewster, Lucas and Green initiated CPR and deployed an automatic external defibrillator (AED) that the centre was equipped with in 2008.
The quick action by people at the hall, emergency services and the use of the AED saved Greb’s life.
On Monday, Oct. 22, Oxford County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) recognized Fewster, Lucas and Green for their role in saving Greb.
Each of the three rescuers was presented with a certificate for their efforts during a ceremony at the Mt. Elgin Community Hall.
“It’s just something that you do,” said Fewster about how she and her fellow board members reacted. “God was in the room with us. He was helping us.”
Fewster, Lucas and Green have been trained in using an AED since before the device was placed in the hall.
“At the time (when we were training), I remember thinking, ‘I hope I never have to do this (for real),’” said Fewster. “Little did I know July 9, (2012), I’d be working with it and I’d be saving a friend.”
It was the second time Lucas has been involved in helping someone in cardiac arrest. He performed CPR on a victim when he was a co-op student at Lambton College in the 1980s, but survival wasn’t in the cards.
On Monday, Lucas took his certificate out of its frame and asked Greb to sign it.
Greb is the first person to have been saved as a result of Oxford’s AED initiative.
She has made her story public to highlight the importance of the devices and encourage people to get CPR training.
“It was an evening like no other,” said Greb who became a grandmother for the second time a month ago. “It was an eye-opener and it proved what I’ve known all along – that this is an incredibly special community. Thank you so much, I just can’t say that enough.”
Joe Pember, manager of Oxford County Emergency Services, thanked Greb for sharing her story to help further the cause for a cardiac safe community. He said she is an example of how everything can come together in a successful outcome.
“I hope her story will spur more people to learn CPR and the use of AEDs,” he said.
Still, some people hesitate to perform CPR out of fear that they’ll do it wrong and do more harm than good.
“You can’t make someone in cardiac arrest worse, it’s impossible,” Pember said. “You can only make them better.”
As a token of appreciation for what hall board members did, Greb’s family made a $500 donation to the facility on Monday.