Archive for November, 2013

Coach Save Teen Soccer Player in School

Posted by cocreator on November 28, 2013
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Karen and John Acompora pulled up to an Amityville elementary school they had never visited, to meet a girl they did not know.


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A few weeks earlier, 12-year-old Kiavelyn Altagracia, a seventh-grader at Edmund W. Miles Middle School in Amityville, collapsed on the sideline during her soccer practice. She was unconscious and barely had a pulse, said her coach, Isha Hamilton, who started CPR.

Within minutes, Hamilton used an automated external defibrillator, more commonly known as an AED. The machine the size of a laptop computer told her to keep doing chest compressions and rescue breathing.

Kiavelyn Altagarcia the Survivor

Kiavelyn Altagarcia the Survivor

“She took a deep gasp, and I felt a very faint pulse,” Hamilton said. Kiavelyn slowly regained consciousness.

The AED was on the field because of the Acomporas of Northport, whose son Louis died on March 25, 2000, after a ball hit him in the chest during his first high school lacrosse game. There was no AED on hand.

The lacrosse game was in West Islip. The second quarter had just started and Louis was in the goal, wearing a chest protector, when the ball struck him and he collapsed.

Karen and John Acompora were in the stands and thought Louis had had the wind knocked out of him. But after a few minutes, Louis didn’t get up, and his parents knew something was wrong. John Acompora ran to the field, while CPR was being performed. Karen Acompora remembers seeing her husband take off Louis’ chin strap.

Louis, 14, died on that field.

In 2002, Louis’ Law was enacted, months after the family launched the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation. The law mandates that schools, including athletic events, have AEDs on-site and people trained to use them. Kiavelyn was the 75th save statewide since the law passed.

“It is amazing what they are doing and so heroic,” said Hamilton, who teaches physical education at the Amityville school. The Acomporas attended an October school board meeting at Park Avenue Elementary, where they presented awards to Kiavelyn, Hamilton and Greg McCoy, another coach who assisted with the save.

The Acomporas, who also have a daughter, have spent years raising awareness about AEDs. To date, the law has saved 76 people, the family said.

“Out of those 76, there are a lot of them who have paid it forward,” Karen Acompora said. One is a foundation board member, and many have helped raise money and participated in advocacy efforts, she said.

Greater New York American Red Cross spokesman Michael de Vulpillieres said Kiavelyn’s save “emphasizes the continued importance of using an AED within two to three minutes of sudden cardiac arrest and having trained rescuers who recognize and act in an emergency to save a life.”

“We applaud the efforts of the Acompora family over the years to make AEDs more accessible while honoring the memory of their son,” de Vulpillieres said.

American Heart Association staff member Robin Vitale said the Acomporas “are a tremendous source of strength and inspiration for those of us working to improve bystander response to an emergency, meaning CPR initiation and using an AED.”

“I simply cannot begin to imagine the depth of pain they experienced 13 years ago with the death of their son, Louis,” Vitale said. “But what a testament to the courage of Karen and John that they have committed to building his legacy by continuing their advocacy.”The foundation just held an event in Floral Park, where about 400 children were screened for heart conditions, and they are planning another for next year.

Karen Acompora says her family’s work helps keep Louis’ memory alive. They always talk about him, and now they have a grandson, 5-year-old Louis. “It is like Louis is still here with us,” she said.

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Fellow Firefighters Save One of Their Own during Training

Posted by cocreator on November 28, 2013
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Tallahassee fire fighters constantly train to help save lives and rescue people from life threatening situations.

It’s that very training that helped them save the life of one of their own recently.

On November 14, Firefighters Steve Box, 55, was taking part in physical fitness training at the Tallahassee Fire Department’s training grounds at 2964 Municipal Way. Dressed in a firefighter coat, helmet and air pack, Box was making his way through the course.

He was making his way up the stairs of a five-story training tower when he suddenly became unconscious.

More than seven fellow firefighters quickly rushed to aid putting their life-saving training into action. They quickly began CPR after assessing that Box had gone into cardiac arrest and wasn’t breathing.

Box was rushed to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where doctors were able to determine that Box has had a heart attack due to arterial blockage. After several hours in surgery, the recovery began.

“Everything is blank from the time I woke up, to the time I was in the hospital,” Firefighter Box told WTXL Photojournalist Anthony Murdock as he recalls the events of that day. “I don’t think I can give you enough words to say how thankful I am. I’ll never forget them for the rest of my life. They will be embedded in my mind.”

Box says he is thankful it happened at the training facility where help was just feet away.

“I was lucky because I was here,” Box said. “I had a lot of paramedics, guys that just knew what they were doing. Praise God that they were here and did what they did.”

Box adds that he now has a renewed passion to return the favor, return to work, and help save lives.

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Student & Chaperone Save Teen Drummer at Music Festival

Posted by cocreator on November 28, 2013
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Robbie Lewis, a Lathrop High School drummer, left the stage at the jazz festival and dropped to the floor as the music died. His breathing halted and his heart stopped.

Robbie Lewis the Survivor & Sarah Maffe the Saviour

Robbie Lewis the Survivor & Sarah Maffe the Saviour

Lewis would have perished that day last April, but for the quick thinking of a fellow student and a chaperone.

Sarah Maffe, a jazz pianist from Palmer High School, had been waiting her turn to play before the crowd of kids from across Alaska.

It took her a moment to realize that the lifeless form she saw was not a bulky instrument but a fellow student.

Maffe, who had recently trained as a lifeguard in Palmer, did not hesitate. She began CPR on Lewis, as did Carey Seagraves Werlein, a nurse and Palmer parent chaperone, who also knew what to do.

In the seconds and minutes that followed, Maffe and Werlein gave Lewis the chance to play drums again.

The compressions on his chest by Maffe and the air blown into his lungs by Werlein kept him from slipping away after his heart failed.

In minutes, the paramedics from the University Fire Department arrived to administer advanced life support. Lewis was hospitalized and medevaced to Anchorage.

He remained in a coma for several days at Providence Hospital and had an internal defibrillator placed in his chest.

It took some time for his family to breathe easy.

“It is not possible to describe how grateful I am to still be here,” said Lewis, a third-generation drummer. “If it wasn’t for people in this room like Sarah and the EMTs that brought me back, I wouldn’t be here.”

“There is nothing scarier than getting that close to death,” said the 16-year-old.

He said his chances of survival with a 100 percent recovery were about 16 in 10,000.

“All I can think of is ‘Praise God, I’m still alive,’” Lewis said.

Maffe, now a senior at Palmer, said she had been taught as a new lifeguard to look for those whose heads drop below the water and to act instantly.

“It’s amazing to give someone a second chance,” she said.

As Lewis recovered at Providence Hospital, Maffe visited him, bringing a purple ukulele that had been donated by Matanuska Music in Palmer. Purple is one of the Lathrop colors.

She and Lewis had a mini-concert in the hospital, with Lewis on drums.

“Neither of us had any idea of what we were doing, but evidently we sounded great,” said Lewis.

Seven months have passed since the heart scare and while Lewis is 100 percent recovered, the incident remains unexplained.

Lewis’ dad, Fairbanks broadcaster J.R. Lewis, said, “the miracle was in the quickness of the response.”

The incident has turned the elder Lewis into an advocate for CPR training. He has made it a mission to spread that message to as many people as possible. Time is the enemy when your heart stops.

“Carey and Sarah intervened. They recognized the symptoms. They acted without hesitation. They knew what they were doing. They had the training and here he is,” Lewis said of his son.

“I’m glad that he’s still around, and I’m glad that we have a room full of heroes who made that possible.”

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Doctor & Colleague Save Waitress in Restaurant

Posted by cocreator on November 28, 2013
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Student Paige Hurley was enjoying her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia.

Paige Hurley the Survivor

Paige Hurley the Survivor

The seemingly healthy 22-year-old was working as a waitress to help fund her travels around the stunning country.

Paige, who is a third year student at Leeds University, was about an hour into her shift when disaster struck. The theatre and performance student suddenly collapsed in front of horrified customers.

Stunned diners could be seen on CCTV footage wondering what to do to help her. At first they thought she may have just tripped over but then the harsh reality of the situation dawned on them.

Paige was unconscious and her heart had stopped beating. It had gone into cardiac arrest.

Thankfully there was a doctor in the restaurant who knew exactly what to do to save her life. He showed Paige’s boss how to administer CPR and he started chest compressions to help massage her heart.

There was a lifesaving defibrillator located upstairs in the shopping centre where the restaurant was located. By following the electronic device’s simple steps the quick-thinking volunteers helped to restart Paige’s heart.

Paige, now 24, said: “If it hadn’t been for the doctor and the nearby defibrillator then I might have died.

“I was just so lucky that there were people there at the time who were able to take over and offer assistance to me.

“It just makes you realise that there is a lot of kindness in strangers.

“And the only reason that they knew where the defibrillator was is because there was a guy there who went to the gym upstairs.

“I will always be thankful for the defibrillator that was next door that started my heart again.”

Paige was diagnosed with a heart condition called Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia or CPVT. The condition is connected to the rhythm of the heart and tends to show itself if the heart speeds up.

Paige now has a defibrillator fitted to her heart to help make sure that her heart maintains a regular rhythm.

And the defibrillator helped to save her life for a second time after she collapsed on stage during a production at Leeds University.

The performance student didn’t realise that exercise and stage nerves could impact on her condition.

She said: “I was giving it welly and my heart sped up to nearly 180 beats per minute.

“The defibrillator kicked in and restarted my heart before it got serious.

“One of the girls helped me up. I just looked around and carried on.”

Following the incident last year all of Paige’s co-workers decided to learn lifesaving first aid.

Her old restaurant even gave her a copy of the CCTV footage that captured the incident before she left.

She said: “It was just strange to see. I was extremely lucky.

“I think because of what happened all the people I was working with all started to decide to be fully trained in first aid. I was then able to give a little bit of awareness and realised that you need to know the basics of first aid.

“I think that it is a responsibility that we all should take seriously. Once you learn the basics it is not that hard. You shouldn’t be scared of doing first aid and a lot of people have said they would be terrified to use a defibrillator.

“There’s is nothing to be terrified about because you could be helping to save someone’s life. We should all try to help each other.

“One day if it happened to you then you will expect that same kind of treatment from strangers just like I did.

“It is just so important to know what to do.”

Paige now looks for defibrillators around Leeds wherever she goes.

She also hopes that the lifesaving electronic devices will be fitted in schools across the country.

She said: “I know how important it is to know exactly where they are.

“If you are going to have one then everyone needs to know about it.”

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Friends & Staff Save Man in Ice Rink

Posted by cocreator on November 27, 2013
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Roseville resident Scott Rodriguez has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. For starters, he’s alive and able to spend the holiday with family and friends.


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While playing hockey on Sept. 19 at the Richfield Ice Arena, Rodriguez went into sudden cardiac arrest, according to a Richfield Fire Department release.

Fellow skaters Robert Mueller, Roger Gilbert and Tom Brigl, called for help and began CPR. They were soon joined by ice arena employees Alvin Moore and Gary Piram; who also brought an automated external defibrillator (AED).

As Richfield firefighters and EMTs arrived, the AED shocked Rodriguez’s heart back to a stable rhythm, and he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center to be treated for a heart attack.

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