A one-hour class usually doesn’t seem that important.
But what about one that you take on Thursday and helps you save a life on Sunday?
Tammy Sperling, Stryker, received instruction in life-saving techniques from Rod Cheney, Fulton County Emergency Medical Services director, Thursday, May 10.
Then she helped a twoyear old begin breathing again on Sunday, May 13– just three days after the class.
In May, Cheney gave a “nuts and bolts” course on compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the Heimlich maneuver, and other basic actions used in life-threatening situations at Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing.
Sperling works as an inside sales manager at the Wauseon company, and attended Cheney’s class.
Three days later, Sperling heard Margarita Rodriguez yell from across the street that her two-year old daughter Anastasia was not breathing.
Sperling went over to provide what help she could.
Anastasia was “very limp and very blue in the face,” she said.
After performing small compressions on the child’s chest, Anastasia began breathing again.
“I’m 99.9% sure that if I had not been in that class, I would not have felt like I would do any good stepping into a situation like that,” Sperling said.
Rodriguez said that Anastasia had suffered a seizure from a high fever and had stopped breathing.
Sperling’s actions– assisting someone in need– is “why we do this,” Cheney said.
“It feels incredible to hear something like that,”he said.
Cheney has spent 27 years serving the public.
With 17 years as a firefi ghter and 10 as a paramedic, Cheney has contributed to the health and safety of the people of Fulton County.
His advocacy of CPR training for the general public earned him the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio’s “Healthcare Hero” award for “making a difference in healthcare in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.”
A major part of Cheney’s efforts to educate the public is a free course in the basics of CPR, including compression only resuscitation, Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) training, and, most importantly, teaching the necessity of action by bystanders in life or death situations.
“It’s not just knowing what to do, it’s knowing to actually do it,” Cheney said.
“We, paramedics and EMS (emergency medical service), need that public support to give people the best chance when they suffer these sorts of attacks.”
Cheney said he knew he had to do something to increase public knowledge of CPR after graduating from paramedic school in 2001.
“I realized that we have all this training and all this equipment, but without that public support, it’s difficult to give someone who has a sud- den cardiac arrest or stops breathing… the best chance to survive,” Cheney said.
He likens the efforts to save someone who suffers sudden cardiac arrest or stops breathing to a relay race. The initial action of the public around a victim is the first leg of the race.
“If nobody does anything, we’re already an entire lap behind by the time we, the paramedics or EMS, get there…”
In 2006, Cheney approached Andy Brodbeck, Archbold fire department chief, about teaching CPR to the public at large.
“There was no hesitation by chief Brodbeck,” Cheney said.
“He helped me out immensely, and there were Archbold firemen at these events helping out as well.”
The effort had a slow start. In 2009, only 119 people participated in an October event.
However, Cheney’s dogged determination paid off. He now estimates the number of people he has instructed on CPR and the importance of bystander action is up to more than 3,000.
Cheney also received considerable support from the Fulton County commissioners.
“They purchased some specialized equipment for treating sudden cardiac arrest, and that’s been an immense help,” Cheney said.
Cheney says all of that support and increased community awareness and participation have led to a much more heartening statistic.
In the 1 1/2 years since the increased participation in CPR training, there have been nine successful resuscitations of people who have suffered sudden cardiac arrest in Fulton County.
Cheney’s efforts extend to the Fairlawn Retirement Community.
There, he helps instruct the staff on CPR, AEDs, and other life-saving measures, including helping Fairlawn plan its Code Blue procedures.
Code Blue is Fairlawn’s response to a serious medical event.
“He was a huge help to me in critiquing and instituting Fairlawn’s Code Blue protocol and organizing mock Code Blue drills with the Archbold Fire Department,” said Peg Leschinski, Fairlawn staff development coordinator.
Leschinski nominated Cheney for the Healthcare Heros award.
While Cheney was humbled by the award, the pride at having his work recognized was inescapable.
“To even be in the same conversation as some of those physicians who have all done incredible work, yeah, that feels great,” Cheney said with a smile.
“But to actually win, that’s gratifying.”
While he is encouraged by the number of people trained in CPR, he still sees room for improvement.
Seattle has one of the highest per capita rates of citizens trained in CPR in the United States, as well as one of the highest rates of resuscitations.
The two are not coincidental, says Cheney.
To get Fulton County to those lofty heights of bystander action and knowledge, Cheney encourages any individual, group or business to contact the Fulton County EMS office at 419-337-9207 to arrange a short training session at any time.
“It’s absolutely free of cost. It’s a nuts and bolts course that can be as short as one hour,” Cheney said.
“You can save a life.”