Church

Friends Save Man during Basketball Game

Posted by cocreator on August 09, 2013
Events / No Comments

Tony Gilliard’s friends did everything right one Tuesday night on the basketball court.

While playing a game in June, the 52-year-old made a lay-up and then ran down the court in Fairview Baptist Church’s Recreation Outreach Center in Greer. At the free-throw line, he fell backward.

“I just (sat) down on a chair that ain’t there,” he said. “Ten minutes later, I see the lights in the ceiling.”


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Gilliard had a small heart attack that caused cardiac arrest. The other players reacted immediately, starting chest compressions, calling 911 and using an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

Josh Thomas was playing with Gilliard that night. Thomas was on the sideline because of an ankle injury when Gilliard collapsed.

“He was on the ground,” he said. “First we thought he had just tripped, but then we realized he was being nonresponsive.”

Thomas had gone through renewal certification for first responder training just days before at Caterpillar, where he works in product support.

“I’ve been a first responder for two years and this was the first time that I ever had, thankfully, to use it,” he said. “Afterward, you start to think about what if, what if, what if, but I can’t really do that. I can’t say enough about the group of guys that were here that night. Incredible.”

The church had purchased five AEDs about six months ago, said Dean Hawkins, Fairview Baptist Church sports and recreation director.

“I’ve been pushing for two years for the church to get one, especially in the gym,” Hawkins said. “There’s so much activity. It took awhile to get one, to get the funds to go ahead and order one. When we did, our safety team said we need to have them throughout the church, so they’re throughout our whole church campus.”

Because of the AED’s involvement in saving his life, Tony and his wife, Rita, are trying to spread the word about the importance of the device.

“If facilities that don’t have them will get them, then it can save other lives. … We want to get the word to help somebody else,” Rita Gilliard said. “It helped him.”

“That and these folks saved my life,” Tony Gilliard said.

Without his fast-acting friends providing chest compressions and using the AED, “his chances of survival would have gone down dramatically if he would have survived at all,” said Michael Emery, Greenville Health System physician with Carolina Cardiology Consultants. Emery was on-call the night Gilliard was brought in.

About 10 percent of people who have cardiac arrests outside of a hospital survive the hospital discharge, Emery said, and most don’t make it to the hospital.

“He’s a lucky man,” he said.

“They were thoughtful enough to go get the automatic defibrillator,” Emery said. “They had one, which was great, and someone thought of it, which is even better, and applied it immediately.”

AEDs are pretty basic to apply, Emery said.

“There are nice big pictures on the all stickers,” he said. “It will say ‘analyzing rhythm’ and it will analyze the rhythm and decide if the person needs to be shocked because not all causes of arrest are from a rhythm that can be shocked. It’s not as straight-forward as watching it on TV, but the machines are pretty smart, and they can usually figure it out if it’s a rhythm that needs to be shocked.”

Most people don’t survive an event like Gilliard’s, particularly without complications, Emery said. A lot of people who do survive aren’t the same, dealing with memory issues or debilitation, he said.

Gilliard would be dead without the AED and the other players’ efforts, Rita Gilliard said.

“The doctor actually said he would have been dead or brain dead by the time EMS got in there,” she said.

“One actually told him, ‘Welcome back to the living,’ and the other said, ‘Oh, you’re the guy that came back from the dead,’ ” Rita Gilliard said. “When he had cardiac arrest, his heart stopped. They got him back.”

Donald Rubenstein, a Greenville Health System cardiac electrophysiologist, saw Tony Gilliard the day after “the big event, and I was quite surprised.”

“I’m quite happy he made such a great survival after this,” Rubenstein said. “He had some great friends that helped him out.”

Gilliard’s friends did all the right things, he said.

“This just goes to show the importance of these AEDs at public places,” Rubenstein said.

Gilliard hasn’t been back on the court except to shoot a few baskets since his cardiac arrest while he goes through the 12-week recovery. But he plans to.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s what I love to do.”

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Pastor & Paramedic Save Church Member

Posted by cocreator on January 21, 2011
Events / No Comments

Back in September at the Chisholm Heights Baptist Church in Mustang, Martha Rhodes was talking to fellow church members when she suddenly fell over.

Sudden, had no pain, no chest pain like, nothing. I didn’t feel any different,” Rhodes

Blood clots could have taken Rhodes life, but she said divine intervention saved her. Her pastor Scott Badgett took a short lunch that day and came back to the church just minutes after Rhodes fell lifeless.

“She was already ashen and her lips were blue. It looked like she was gone. She wasn’t breathing,” Badgett said.

So Badgett started “bystander CPR” by doing chest compressions. It was the first time since his training 30 years ago that he needed to use the skill. He continued the CPR while EMSA paramedic Kimberly Maze prepped the defibrillator.

“It was probably three or four shocks before we got a pulse back on her,” Maze said.

Maze said it’s amazing Rhodes is alive. Maze credited Badgett’s work, but Badgett said he had help.

“I guess it just helps me to know that God can use just about anybody because it had been so long since I had CPR. It wasn’t something I had ever done on someone before,” Badgett said.

Rhodes said she is forever grateful for her pastor, and that day changed her life for the better. Rhodes is now healthy and strong, but she said she will never be the same.

“I do feel different because I treat everyday like a gift, and when I say goodbye to my loves ones, I will make sure I say goodbye because you never know it might be your last time to do that,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes now has a defibrillator, and she said ironically she was trying to get a CPR class together for the church before her near death experience. Church members have since put together a class.

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Church Saves Great-Great-Grandmother during Service

Posted by cocreator on September 20, 2010
Events / No Comments

The last thing Sallie Sims remembers about going to a funeral last week at CrossPoint Church of Christ was wondering if she would know the fourth verse to the hymn “No Setting Sun.”


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“I finished the song and then, the next thing, I was in an ambulance, and a man was trying to put oxygen on me,” Sims said. “I told him I didn’t like having anything on my face.”

Sims is living proof that having an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on site can make a difference in whether a person lives after the onset of sudden cardiac death.

CrossPoint bought its defibrillator in 2006 at the urging of a church elder. Staff members rushed to get the device when Sims collapsed.

Sallie Sims the Survivor

“We had just finished the music for the funeral, and the first speaker had gotten up when (Sims) fell over, out of her seat,” said CrossPoint preacher Frank Mills. “Someone yelled, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ and luckily we had several there at that time, and they rushed to her.”

Bob Man, a local physician, said Sims didn’t have a pulse and was turning blue.

“We were giving CPR, by compressions and mouth-to-mouth, and she was shocked (with the defibrillator),” he said. “She didn’t start back right after she was shocked, and the machine was getting ready to shock her a second time when she started breathing on her own again.”

“Based on what I’ve been told, I’m convinced if not for the church having that (AED) she would not be with us today,” said Sims’ niece, Stacy White. “She was gone; there was no heart beat, but thanks to the defibrillator, she’s alive.”

White said her aunt doesn’t have a history of heart problems and didn’t have any symptoms, nor did she feel bad the day of the funeral. But the 71-year-old great-great-grandmother had to have five stents placed in the arteries in her heart.

“When I saw her in the emergency room, I told her she didn’t look like she had just had a heart attack,” White said. “She looked good, just like always.”

Mann said Sims suffered a sudden cardiac death because of a rhythm problem.

Bruce Carson, director of Keller and Lauderdale EMS, said the situation with Sims is a perfect example of how AEDs are intended to be utilized.

“This is the outcome that all emergency professionals want to see,” Carson said. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that early defibrillation and CPR saved this woman’s life. The swift action by the people there, and the early shock, was the absolute key to her survival.”

He said all volunteer fire departments and first responders have AEDs.

Mann said two years ago a similar situation occurred at Walmart in Florence.

“A woman was there, and she had a heart attack,” Mann said. “The store had an AED, and the manager used it to bring her back. I would encourage any public place to have them.”

Mark Killen, recreation outreach minister at CrossPoint, said church staff have gone through basic CPR training and have been trained on how to use the defibrillator.

“We’re considering buying a portable oxygen tank just to have in case of emergencies, and we plan on having refresher courses for the staff and any members who want to attend,” Killen said.

He said the situation with Sims was the first time the church used the AED.

“Our hope is that it hangs on the wall and we never have to use it again,” Killen said.

“There is a need for these in all churches and all public places,” said Jerry Dowd, who was sitting next to Sims when she collapsed. “Until you see it work, you may be skeptical, but I saw the results. Even if you only have to use it once, it pays dividends like in this case.”

Sims said Mann came to see her in the intensive care unit after her surgery to place the stents in her arteries.

“He said he would not call me lucky, but that I had a blessed day,” she said. “Without that machine, I wouldn’t have made it. The machine was my salvation.

“I’ve been told I was a medical miracle,” she said. “I must be.”

Sims’ friend, Julia Dowd, said while the doctors and other emergency medical officials worked on Sims at the church, people in the church prayed.

“It was a like a Hallmark story with a happy ending,” she said.

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Parishioner & Cops Save Priest in Church

Posted by cocreator on June 29, 2010
Events / No Comments

St. Benedict’s parishioner Mary Louise Perez was in the choir loft during Mass on Sunday when Father Andrew McGuire collapsed mid-service in full view of the congregation.

“He was just turning from the altar and walked to the end to sit down in his chair,” Perez said. “He just keeled over right flat on his face.”

According to Montebello city fire Battalion Chief Rick Lynski, personnel from Engine 55 responded to St. Benedict’s Catholic Church following reports of an about 80-year-old man down at about 10:44 a.m.

Montebello police officers were already on scene and using a device known as an automated exterior defibrillator on McGuire. Lysnki said the patient had no pulse.

Prior to taking the clergyman to the hospital, Lynski said a pulse was established and by the time he arrived at the emergency room, McGuire was conscious and speaking.

Perez, 78 and her husband Joe, 82, who have sung in the choir at St. Benedict’s for the past six years, said an unknown parishioner began administering CPR before emergency personnel arrived. Joe Perez said he later saw emergency workers using the defibrillator on McGuire.

“I saw them give (McGuire) a shock because I saw his legs kick out,” he said.

A woman who answered the phone at St. Benedict’s on Monday and declined to give her name said the pastor was in intensive care but added he was in stable condition.

Rose Lopez, who works in the parish rectory, said she did not know the name of the individual who rendered aid before police and firefighters arrived.

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Paramedic & Colleagues Save Grandfather at Church

Posted by cocreator on April 01, 2010
Events / No Comments

As the operations manager for Thanksgiving! Lutheran Church, Harold Carlson had a number of things on his mind on 28th December 2009 – clearing the parking lot from the Christmas snowstorm, preparing for the annual fiscal report that was less than a month away, managing the day-to-day functions of the church.

Harold’s son, Rob Carlson, also works at T!LC. As a jack-of-all-trades handyman, Rob Carlson answers directly to his father but, on any given day, may be on the other side of the church grounds and only see him a handful of times.

Having just unloaded the first pallet of salt, Harold and Rob slid into the pickup at a few minutes before 4 p.m. to make another run. Driving up the road leading away from the church, Rob said he and his dad were just having a normal conversation toward the end of a long day.

As he turned the corner on to Lexington Avenue and headed toward the intersection of 36th Street, though, everything changed.

When Harold slouched over, Rob said his first thought was that his dad might just be nodding off after a strenuous afternoon. But when he started gasping for breath, Rob knew something was wrong with his father.

Rob Carlson didn’t even turn the truck around. Throwing it into reverse, he made his way back Lexington Avenue, rushing to get help for his father. The first person he came upon was Bob Belsaas, a part-time maintenance man at the church, the Air Force retiree and Vietnam veteran.

Rob told him something was wrong with his dad and that he needed help. As Rob drove the truck back toward the T!LC offices, Belsaas parked his tractor and ran in the same direction.

Susan Westland was wrapping up her first day as a vicar at T!LC. At the offices, she was gathering her things in anticipation of her son coming to pick her up when, all of a sudden she heard a scream from one of the office workers in the front. Someone was yelling for help.

Westland ran to the front of the building where Rob Carlson told her that his dad was in the truck unresponsive. As Rob called 911, Westland rushed out where, seeing Harold’s ashen face and recognizing that look from a similar situation she’d been in years before, she realized that he was in terrible trouble and immediately checked for a pulse.

There was none.

Belsaas had arrived at the truck and the two of them proceeded to lift Harold and lay him on top of their coats on the ground outside of the T!LC offices.

“I prayed to God and I said, ‘God, this is not working,’” Westland recalled of the moment she knew that Harold could be dying right in front of her on that cold sidewalk. “Instantly I saw the letters ‘AED’ flash into my head and I said out loud, ‘AED, AED, I wish we had an AED machine.’ Rob was standing behind me and he said, ‘We do.’”

Covering the 150 yards from the offices to the church in what must have seemed to him like an eternity but what Westland and Belsaas called an instant, Rob Carlson retrieved the defibrillator. Just as they were starting to set it up and attach the electrodes to Harold’s chest, a paramedic from the Bellevue Fire Department arrived at the scene.

Having heard the emergency call go out, the paramedic, instead of first responding to the fire station, had recognized the address and gone straight to the church. Westland and the paramedic attached the device to Harold’s chest, administering a first shock to his heart.

Right around that time, the Bellevue rescue squad arrived at the scene and took over.

Harold was transported to Midlands Hospital where he was stabilized. He was then taken to Bergan Mercy Medical Center where he underwent quadruple bypass surgery.

He choked back tears as he acknowledged everyone who had been involved in saving his life, saying he was not afraid of death but feared leaving behind a loving wife, three wonderful sons, their wives and eight grandchildren who, like he had, might only have remembered their grandfather through pictures and stories.

“Then you realize how precious life really is,” he said. “And how quickly it can be taken from you.”

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