Quick thinking by a group of parents waiting to pick up their children from Crestwood School is being credited for saving a 38-year-old Paris man’s life Wednesday, March 13.
First responder Nicole Shaughnessy of the Edgar County Special Service Area Ambulance, which answered a call to the chaotic scene, said there is no doubt in her mind the local residents who jumped in to help the man saved his life. “As someone who has experienced many of these type of calls, I can tell you the action by this group of people saved his life,” Shaughnessy said.
The incident began shortly before Crestwood dismissed Wednesday as parents, grandparents and other family members arrived to get in line for student pickup.
Shaughnessy said the victim, who was arriving at the school to pick up his junior high school age daughter, turned into the school drive and then just stopped. The man slumped over the steering wheel of his truck and when he passed out, his foot hit the accelerator and the truck ran into another vehicle waiting for pickup.
Camille “Cami” Costa Kuglin, who was one of the parents who came to the man’s aid, said Eno Vitale, Mike Wilson, Bobby Sinclair, Leslie Biemick and Kelli Keys immediately came to help the man. The men were able to remove the man from the truck and lay him on the ground safely and at that point, he had stopped breathing.
Keys, a cardiac registered nurse at Union Hospital, began CPR chest compressions just as Kuglin arrived, pulling into the Crestwood entrance. Kuglin and Keys began two-person CPR while Coach Christy Adkison raced for one of the school’s three AED — an automated external defibrillators.
Kuglin said the man was blue and was not breathing. She cleaned his face and began trying to move air but was unsuccessful. “We didn’t know if it was a heart attack or if he had choked,” Kuglin, a surgical registered nurse at Union Hospital, said. After repositioning his head Kuglin said her concern about forcing vomit into his lungs left her, “because he wasn’t going to live without air.” Her second attempt was successful and she saw his chest rise and fall.
Shaughnessy said the great thing about the AED is, “You don’t have to be a medical professional or a paramedic to operate one. It talks to you, taking you through the steps.”
Kuglin said once the pads were attached to the victim’s chest — the AED instructs the users exactly where to place them — the AED began talking.
“First it said ‘analyzing rhythm’,” she recalled. The AED then responded no rhythm detected and suggested the victim be shocked. “We all looked at each other and agreed he needed to be shocked,” she said. Once the shock was administered, the AED instructed them to continue CPR.
“Right after that, his right arm reached up and grabbed my arm and he rolled himself over to his side,” Kuglin said. The ECSSAA paramedics including Shaughnessy arrived shortly after and took over, she said.
Shaughnessy said the victim had the right people at the right time present for his attack. “There’s a cardiac nurse, a surgical nurse, a Paris fireman (Bobby Sinclair) another Paris fireman (Brad Hett) who just happened to be driving by on his way to the vet that were all on the scene before paramedics,” Shaughnessy said.
Crestwood Superintendent of Schools Danette Young was also on the scene within minutes. “The school was locked down and eventually the children were directed out a rear entrance to the buses,” Shaughnessy said. “Everything was handled professionally.”
Kuglin emphasized the need for everyone to know CPR and Shaughnessy agreed.
“You just never know when you’re going to be called upon to use it,” Kuglin said. She noted she is recertified every two years but she thought the last time she used it in a real life situation was probably five years ago.
Shaughnessy said there are more than 75 AEDs in Edgar County. “They are lifesavers,” she said. Besides schools, many churches and public places now have AEDs.
The victim is now a patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Union Hospital but is off the ventilator, Kuglin said. He is expected to have additional heart procedures after he recovers, she said.
Shaughnessy said anyone who wants to learn CPR may contact ECSSAA to set up training. “You get certified in about two hours,” she said.