Clackamas Fire Division Chief Bill Conway's CPR saves man's life
On Saturday, Oct. 7, off-duty Clackamas Fire District #1 Division Chief Bill Conway was in the right place at the right time to help save a citizen's life.
Conway and his wife were shopping at Grocery Outlet, 15810 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd., Oak Grove, where they heard what sounded like a case of wine crashing to the floor on the other side of their aisle. The Conways were on their way to a wedding picking out wine at about 2 p.m. to take with them to the celebration.
They thought about the poor person who would have to clean up, and luckily Conway's wife poked her head around the end of the aisle to check out how bad the mess was.
"Honey, there's someone down on the floor," Conway recalled his wife saying.
The mess was worse than either of the Conways suspected. Amid all the broken wine bottles was a 71-year-old man with a broken nose spurting blood and with gashes all over his face.
"When you've done it for a long time, you don't have to take a pulse to tell that someone is in cardiac arrest," Conway said.
Conway pushed hard and fast in the center of the man's chest until paramedics arrived, just as his team has trained 43,000 students to do with hands-only CPR classes in recent years throughout the Clackamas Fire service area. Conway serves as the fire district's emergency medical services chief and has been instrumental in helping citizens learn CPR and in helping find funding for the placement of automatic external defibrillators in law-enforcement vehicles and businesses throughout Clackamas County.
The heart-attack victim on Oct. 7 turned out to be Jim Jaggers, who retired in 1999 from teaching full-time at Ogden Middle School. After hearing that store employees had called 911, Conway began pushing Jaggers on the chest to the quick beat of "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees.
Clackamas Fire firefighter/paramedics and American Medical Response units responded to the scene. They defibrillated Jaggers twice, and he regained a pulse. Jaggers tested positive for a ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a very serious type of heart attack during which one one of the arteries that supplies oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked. Jaggers was then transported to Kaiser Sunnyside, and was doing well following a triple-bypass surgery.
"He was alert and oriented in the emergency room, which is almost unheard of," Conway said.
Jaggers' wife, Sue, said she will be eternally thankful to Conway for giving her husband the chest compressions.
"The man is a miracle worker," Jaggers said. "My husband was actually dead, but the chief revived him. It's a miracle he's still alive, and it's like God sent him here to give my husband the touch of the Lord."
Conway said that he didn't perform any special service, noting that thousands of other people in Clackamas County have learned to do hands-on-only CPR under his leadership. He believes that the strength of an entire community fighting side-by-side will ultimately prove to be more powerful than the nation's No. 1 killer — heart disease. He would like to remind everyone that you can be a citizen hero too by learning hands-only CPR, calling 911 early, knowing where to find an AED for cardiac arrest victims and by downloading the Pulse Point app to alert bystanders when a cardiac arrest occurs near them.
As a firefighter for 29 years, Conway has saved countless lives using paramedic equipment. It has been a long time, however, since he's been caught off duty without his equipment to help someone with a cardiac arrest.
In the early 1990s, Conway got a big write up in the Daily Astorian for performing CPR on a bystander, saving her life outside of Domino's, where he was delivering pizzas at the time.
Jaggers, who will be 72 next month, is a past chairman of the Oregon Lions. Jaggers, who continues to substitute for Oregon City schools, was upset that his doctors told him he couldn't go back to teaching until January.
Jaggers is already moving about the house, calling all his three children and three grandchildren, and making plans for the Lion's smart program for kids. He is an elder at Woodburn Christian Church and keeps busy tending his roses.
Conway ended up being a little late for the wedding but he said it went great and made it to the Oct. 7 ceremony.