March 21, 2007

Positivity: Their quick actions saved a stranger

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From South Bend, Indiana:

Article published Mar 9, 2007

Troy Smith was about to pay for a pair of pants at Kohl’s Department Store on South Bend’s south side when he heard a “code blue” come over the store’s intercom.

Troy saw people gathering back in the shoe department, and concern — more than curiosity — sent him that way.

That’s when he saw 73-year-old George Avon of South Bend on the floor between racks. He was the victim of a heart attack and seemed to be in a frozen state.

“And for three to five seconds, I froze, too,” says Troy, 36. “It was as if I had gone into shock.”

Other bystanders seemed to be the same.But Troy, the operations coordinator at Univar USA in South Bend, had been trained by his company in CPR.

“So I talked to myself calmly and said, ‘OK, Troy, you can do this.’ ”

Yes, he could.

And while he started doing chest compressions, another bystander was staying in touch with the 911 operator.

At about that time, 23-year-old Cory Allen of South Bend arrived at the scene. The loss prevention officer at Kohl’s and a full-time Bethel College student, he cut through the crowd almost at a run.”When I heard the code blue, I thought it might be someone who had slipped and fallen,” Cory recalls. “But then the urgency of the calls made me really hustle.

“I know there were a lot of people standing around, but it was as if I had tunnel vision — all I could see were George and Troy.”

Cory let Troy know that he also knew CPR, and he immediately started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while Troy continued with the chest compressions.

Time almost stood still. Minutes could have been seconds — or hours.

Cory and Troy worked in unison, occasionally checking with one another.”I thought we were working pretty well as a team,” Cory says.

But Troy was worried.

“When I first started the compressions, I heard a crack in George’s chest and I thought I really had hurt him,” he says. “I was wondering if I was going too deep.”The woman talking to the 911 operator told him to keep it up.

For about seven minutes, the two strangers worked together on a man who didn’t seem to be responsive. They couldn’t tell if they were doing any good.

“I knew I was getting air in, though,” Cory says.

“I tried not to look at George’s face — because he wasn’t blinking, he wasn’t moving,” Troy adds.

The paramedics/firefighters from Fire Station 10 on York Road came rushing into the store and took over.”They were amazing in how they handled the situation,” Troy says. “I watched them carefully — just to make sure I hadn’t been too hard on George’s chest and they seemed to be going even deeper on their compressions.”

After they took George off in an ambulance, Troy and Cory stood there for a moment. Then Cory went back to work and Troy returned to the counter to pick up his credit card and pay for his pants.

That was 10 days ago on the early afternoon of Feb. 27.

George was taken to Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center still unconscious and in extremely critical condition, according to his daughter, Susan Quimby.

He was in a coma for 17 hours after suffering his attack.”But then Dad came out of it, and he continues to improve,” Susan says. “Everyone at the hospital has told me that Cory and Troy saved his life, that they did everything right.”

On Wednesday in his hospital bed, George was able to thank Troy and Cory personally as they visited him.

“I appreciate their efforts,” says George, still a little groggy. “I was very fortunate that they both had CPR knowledge.”

And were willing to use it…..


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