Thursday, April 27, 2006

'True Miracle' Saves Driver's Life

April 27, 2006

Mary Blome and Steve Earle join Carolyn Holt
to talk about "miracle" life-saving
(CBS/The Early Show)
"The first thing I remember is waking up in
the intensive care unit of the hospital and
people saying to me, 'what do you remember?'
 And I said, 'Nothing.'"
...Carolyn Holt
[Click here to watch "The Early Show" (CBS) interview]

(CBS) Luck was on the side of a Missouri woman who went into cardiac arrest while driving.

Carolyn Holt was alone in her car on Friday, driving in St. Charles, Mo., when her heart stopped beating. She drifted across several lanes of traffic and then crashed into a guard rail. Other drivers stopped to help and by sheer luck, two of them were nurses and one was a defibrillator salesman — who happened to have a defibrillator in his car.

A truck driver used his trailer hitch to smash through a window and pull Holt out of the car. The nurses performed CPR and then used the defibrillator to shock Holt back to life. She spent the week in the hospital and is expected to be released April 27.

Holt joined two of her good Samaritans, Mary Blome, the nurse, and Steve Earle, the salesman, for an interview with The Early Show Thursday morning. She told co-anchor Julie Chen she has no memory of those terrifying moments on the road.

"Everybody finds it hard to believe, but the first thing I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit of the hospital and people saying to me, 'what do you remember?' And I said, 'Nothing,'" Holt told Chen. "So they started telling me the story about my very helpful friends."

Earle, who was driving with his wife to pick up their daughter, described the moment when he realized someone was in trouble. "We basically saw traffic slowing down, and Carolyn's car coming across the center line very, very slowly," he said. "At that point when I sort of swerved to go around her, I looked over and realized there was definitely something wrong. She looked to be unconscious at the wheel, and that's when we, along with several other cars, pulled over, and went over to see what was wrong."

Blome is a registered nurse and she jumped into action. "We went over to knock on the window. We thought this was just a small vehicle accident, and realized that Carolyn wasn't responsive. So the other man that is not with us today smashed in the window of the vehicle, and the gentleman got Carolyn out, and the other nurse and I assessed her and realized that she was in big trouble and we started CPR, compressions and breathing," she said. "Then Steve came with the defibrillator. It was a true miracle that evening."

As a salesman, Earle says he always carries defibrillators in his car — but it was unusual to be in his car at that point during the day. "It was strange luck that day because when we finish up work for the day, a lot of times we'll get in my wife's car and take it out to eat or to pick my daughter up. We just happened to get into my car for some reason."

Holt was full of thanks for her saviors and said, considering the amazing luck she's had, she might just buy a lottery ticket when she's released from the hospital.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

'Our Hero': School Nurse Saves Life With Defibrillator

April 13, 2006

Gary Bissaillon and Susan Decker
performed CPR on Marcellus school
psychologist Hans Smid, second from left.
At far right is school nurse Debbie
Bowman, who used the defibrillator,
which is on the table.
Debbie Bowman has been a nurse at Marcellus Middle School , 10 miles southwest of Syracuse , for 16 years. On Jan. 23, she learned she hadn't seen everything yet.

At 8:15 that morning, school psychologist Hans Smid was attending a routine meeting at Marcellus Elementary School when the unthinkable happened — his heart stopped.

The 38-year-old Smid collapsed from cardiac arrest. It would be another 15 minutes before the elementary school nurse would report to work. As one colleague dialed 911, another placed a frantic call to Bowman at the middle school.

Gut feeling

"I just dropped everything and ran," Bowman explained. "You just have a gut feeling about things sometimes."

Fortunately, the elementary, middle and high school are on the same campus. Bowman was at the scene in less than a minute.

School principal Gary Bissaillon and elementary teacher Susan Decker already were performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Smid, thanks to a program in which district nurses train school personnel throughout the year on life-saving techniques.

The bad news was that the emergency crew had not yet arrived and Smid was not coming around. Fortunately, the school was equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator.

A state law enacted in 2002 and backed by New York State United Teachers requires defibrillators in all public schools and at scholastic events.

The law has already saved several lives, including that of a 16-year-old student from Naples , near Rochester , in November. Teacher Courtney Conrad of the Naples TA and two colleagues used an AED after the student collapsed. Marcellus has had the AED devices since the legislation was passed, Bowman said.

"I screamed, 'Someone get me the AED!' and I had it within seconds," Bowman recalled. "You just go into tunnel vision."

AEDs read heart rhythms and will provide shocks only if they are necessary. The AED advised administering a shock and then a second one. After the second shock, Bowman said, the AED reported no further shocks were necessary.

Still, Smid remained unconscious. Bowman continued CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, aided by the building principal.

Several seconds later, Smid took a deep breath — and so did Bowman. Smid was breathing on his own and showing signs of regaining consciousness when the ambulance arrived.

"We didn't leave them much work to do," Bowman said.

Smid, who has a history of heart problems, is back at school. Whether he would have been so fortunate without the AED is debatable.


"You can't be afraid of the AED," Bowman said. "You're not going to hurt anyone. It won't let you."

For Bowman, Jan. 23 was a day of firsts. It was the first time she ever had to use an AED on school grounds, and it was the first time she had ever met Smid, a fellow member of the Marcellus Faculty Association.

"Debbie is our hero," said MFA President Terry McSweeney.

— Kevin Hart Copyright New York State United Teachers. 800 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham, New York, 12110-2455. 518.213.6000.
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