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Sue Bush
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EMS: Courage and Compassion In Action

By Shawn P. Godfrey EMT-Paramedic
12:00AM / Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Village Ambulance Operations Manager and Paramedic Shawn Godfrey
Welcome to "EMS:Courage and Compassion In Action," a twice-monthly column written by Village Ambulance Services Operations Manager and paramedic Shawn Godfrey. Godfrey's columns will appear on every other Tuesday and will focus on the reality of the emergency services medical profession.

Amanda’s Story

Imagine that someone suddenly collapses in your presence. Would you know what to do? Of course, call 9-1-1, but would you be able to keep them alive until the ambulance arrives?

A large percentage of heart attacks occur at home and are usually witnessed by a family member or friend. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can be learned and initiated by almost anyone and it nearly doubles the survival rate of a person in sudden cardiac arrest (death). The administration of timely CPR is vitally important since it contributes to the preservation of heart and brain function. Many success stories, like this one, are a direct result of people prepared to help other people.

When I first became certified in CPR as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), I was comfortable with the thought of dealing with people in cardiac arrest, so long as the victim met the “expected” criteria for dying: elderly, sedentary, or, in some instances, palliative. I never imagined young people die, too. In fact, the mere thought of it seemed impossible. Maybe because, at the time, I was young and believed that indestructibility was a given, at least until I was dispatched to help Amanda.

Ten year-old Amanda was laying face down in the school’s gymnasium, not moving, with both arms limp and outstretched. Her skin was turning blue, unlike the pinkish color children typically acquire when playing. Nearby, classmates continued to run and giggle, unaware that Amanda lay lifeless at the side of the bleachers. There was one student wondering about her: "I don’t know what happened. We were practicing our cheerleading and she fell. Is she dead or fooling around?" Fortunately, the Phys-Ed teacher immediately ran to Amanda’s aide after he witnessed her fall to the floor.

After rolling Amanda onto her back, the teacher determined she was unresponsive, not breathing, and had no pulse. To his absolute horror, she presented with all the physical signs of death. The teacher, albeit timidly, immediately began CPR, systematically following all of the steps recently acquired while attending a school-sponsored CPR program just a week earlier. Minutes seemed like hours and hours like days. Each breath that entered Amanda’s lungs and each compression applied to Amanda’s chest were of equal importance to her survival. Following approximately three minutes of CPR, Amanda regained a weak and steady pulse, and started breathing on her own.

When we arrived, Amanda was lethargic and her eyes were lackluster. We supported her breathing with supplemental oxygen and transported her to the nearby hospital. Because of immediate bystander CPR, like that administered by Amanda’s Phys-Ed teacher, a host of exams and x-rays showed she was in good health and miraculously, within three hours, she was behaving completely normal.

There is no definitive medical diagnosis as to why Amanda suddenly collapsed that day, but one claim that can easily be made is Amanda’s teacher, by simply learning CPR, saved her life.

Contact your local ambulance service or hospital for information regarding upcoming community CPR classes. I encourage all of you to learn CPR, because people like Amanda could one day be counting on you.
Your Comments
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Great article shawn!!!
from: mentalmedicon: 02-15 00:00:00-2007

What an interesting way to promote a message.
from: Janiceon: 02-15 00:00:00-2007

Very true, everybody needs to know CPR. It could save your loved ones or even some stranger. In the EMS world no matter what level you are; we all start at the same step. Basic CPR
from: Midnight Medicineon: 02-12 00:00:00-2007

Shawn, great story! I whole heartly agree, CPR indeed saves lives. When tragedy strikes, all too often, family members, bystanders feel helpless...worried they can't, won't do the right thing to "help". CPR training, AED training, can help save a life, but more importantly, it can empower the people in our families, communities, people around us we love to be proactive in helping, when it really counts!
from: Karenon: 02-12 00:00:00-2007

My son was saved under similar circumstances. I now know CPR and will retain it forever.
from: Shirleyon: 02-12 00:00:00-2007

What a bittersweet story. Keep up the good work.
from: Justinon: 02-12 00:00:00-2007

After reading this article I would like to say thank you Shawn for really letting the community know how important it is to have CPR and AED training. Everybody can make a difference in someone elses life. We never know when we might be faced with a tragic situation like this but I hope we are all educated with the information to help. Community CPR training is the first step. Thank you for getting the information out there.
from: Susanon: 02-10 00:00:00-2007

Just think if you added defib training into the mix! The gym teacher should be commended.
from: Marshaon: 02-10 00:00:00-2007

Shawn: Interesting way to inform the public. I'll look for you in two weeks.
from: Frank Thomsonon: 02-10 00:00:00-2007

Good job Shawnie. You're smarter than you look. Bet you wish you hadn't told me about this now. Seriously though,you're a very smart and articulate guy. Kudos to you.
from: Andreaon: 02-10 00:00:00-2007

Great message through the use of words.
from: Paulon: 02-10 00:00:00-2007

I agree with Jennifer; the Phys-Ed Teacher is the true hero, but the writer CLEARLY pays homage to this fact in a later paragraph. He in no way ignores the teacher's dedication to the community. It is simply nice to have a person brave enough to impart these important messages.
from: Amberon: 02-09 00:00:00-2007

I read this article and most of the comments. I agree that the writer does a nice job telling the story. But the hero of the story is the physical education teacher who saved a little girl's life.
from: Jenniferon: 02-09 00:00:00-2007

Shawn: Great story! I am a CPR Instructor in Springfield and like what you are doing here.
from: Jorgeon: 02-09 00:00:00-2007

Nice story Shawn.... looking forward to the next!!!
from: jodion: 02-08 00:00:00-2007

Great way to show how having simple skills, such as, C.P.R, can really make a difference sometimes.
great story Shawn!!!!!!!!!!
from: Bernieon: 02-08 00:00:00-2007

As an EMS provider, I can relate to this specific call and the importance of community CPR/AED training. Since the inception of the "Ambulance Service", most Services offer education and training to their community, and should continue to be a driving force behind this important modality. Thank you!
from: Geneon: 02-08 00:00:00-2007

Great story! Awareness, education & being in the right place at the right time can help save a life! Keep the wonderful stories coming!
from: Colleenon: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

We are certainly living in a time where heart disease is on the rise, and young people as well as older people are affected. CPR is one of the most common sense, valuable skills a person can possess - not to mention the reward that comes from helping to save a life. Great article Shawn!
from: Christinaon: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

What can I say, another great story to raise community health awareness.
from: Mikeon: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

Shawn, you look AMAZING in that picture!
Nice column too, by the way.
from: Tommyon: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

What a positive message while using real-life events to convey it. I will stress the importance of CPR to my employees and will certainly make a change!
from: Jackon: 02-07 00:00:00-2007

great article, Shawn! As usual, an insightful and encouraging story. (You can practice your CPR on me any day!!!) ;}
from: gold deuce girlon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Shawn - your story raises so many valid points at once. I don't know if I could live with myself if I knew that there was something I could do to save someone like Amanda, but didn't bother spending 8 hours of my life to learn. This also reminds me of the recent news story of a person saved by an AED that the government forced the school to get.
from: Danielon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

I couldn't have put that better myself. CPR is a critical skill that absolutely everyone should learn, given the opportunity.
from: Ryanon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

I think it's all too often that we assume that calling EMS is the only thing that we as the general public can do in case of an emergency. It is so important for people to understand that there IS more they can do. By taking a CPR course, or even learning more about basic first aid, anyone can become more confident about their abilities to help others and perhaps, save a life.

Thanks for writing such a column and increasing awareness Shawn.
from: Nicoleon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Shawn, great article!! So true that things like that can happen to anyone at any age. I agree it is a great idea to know CPR you never know what you'll be faced with, in your usually everyday adventures.
from: sweetest dollon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

I love your stories.. Last year after being educated on the importance of CPR, I decided to become certified. Education is key, and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
from: Natalieon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Shawn, great job and so true. Community education plays a big role for the survival of sudden cardiac arrest. If one family member learned Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation the survival rate would increase. Read ya in two weeks.
from: Chuckon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

This is so true and if people only knew the difference they could make by learning. This story reminds me of my first code as a rider back in the day, had the wife not initiated cpr her husband wouldn't be alive today.
from: Kaitlynon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Shawn; This is an informative passionate article for everyone to understand the importance of being proactive and expect the unexpected. Its always the small things in life that we wish we made time to go to, that will make a difference in someone’s life.
from: Nikkion: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

This is great. Good way to get the information out there that everyone can help save a life.
from: Tracyon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Nice column! Well Done!
from: Hoppyon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

Perfect example to get the word out and educate the community. Nice job Shawn :)
from: Carrieon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

That was a great story and very true. It is bystander cpr that realy saves lives. The EMTs can't save the people if their brain dead. Good job Shawn.
from: Jeffon: 02-06 00:00:00-2007

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