Right place, right time
It's not every day you inhale a bee and almost die. Or fall off a bike during a cardiac arrest. It's also not every day a bystander has the chance to save someone's life.
Over the last few months, there were three notable incidents in Lake Oswego where passersby intervened during an emergency before medical and public safety personnel arrived, and helped save a life.
On Wednesday, Oct. 2, the Lake Oswego Fire Department honored five bystanders — Jon Hickman, Christina Paterson, Tesia Collins, John Guitteau and Louise Gillis — who stepped into an emergency medical situation and administered CPR or took other preventive measures until help arrived.
This past July, a man in his late 20s who was playing basketball at the Mountain Park Clubhouse experienced cardiac arrest. Hickman, facilities director at the Clubhouse — and a former firefighter — performed CPR and used one of the recreation center's Automated External Defibrillat-
ors (AEDs) until medical professionals arrived on the scene.
"I practice safety up here all the time. I lead the safety committee and run all the safety stuff up here so we had everything we needed," Hickman said. "It was a team effort. It's awesome to be able to save somebody."
Also this past summer, a man was riding his bike on Highway 43 toward Portland when he fell off his bike during rush hour traffic and experienced cardiac arrest.
"By happenstance two doctors and a nurse passed by. They're not in the same car, they're in different cars," said Lake Oswego's Fire Chief Don Johnson, adding that they called 911 and started performing CPR until help arrived and the AED was applied. "CPR absolutely helped. You got to keep the blood flowing. That's why we really focus on bystander CPR."
Currently there are AEDs in every police car in the city, as well as at city parks and in all city buildings.
One of the more unusual saves that happened last July was with an EpiPen injection.
One Happy Valley and one southwest Portland resident were riding their bikes in Lake Oswego. Jamie Ross inhaled a bee while riding her bike and was stung in her throat. At the time, she did not know she was allergic to bees. They continued biking to Mary S. Young Park when Ross felt sick and her ears became plugged. Her friend Louise Gillis, who has gone into anaphylactic shock before, was carrying an EpiPen and she knew Ross was experiencing a systemic reaction. Gillis called 911 and gave her EpiPen to Ross, who injected herself with the life-saving liquid.
When help arrived, Ross had trouble breathing and was given two more Epinephrine injections and an IV of Epinephrine.
"She saved my life. Carry EpiPens," Ross said.
"I'm just glad that we can get the word out to people to carry an EpiPen — two if possible — and use it. Don't be afraid to call 911 and use it," added Gillis.
Last year, Johnson said, witness CPR had a 50% save rate. So far in 2019, there have been three saves out of eight sudden cardiac arrests.
"The bee sting is an unusual piece. People going down with cardiac arrest and their life being saved in Lake Oswego is much more common," Johnson said. "We have a good success rate with witness bystander CPR."
During the Oct. 2 ceremony, the bystanders were given a certificate of recognition and a chief's coin, which Johnson says serves as a momento from the fire department reminding people that they did something outstanding.
"Just as something they can have ... and say 'I made a difference,'" Johnson said.
Guitteau, one of the doctors who was on scene administering CPR to the man who had fallen off his bike, said the recognition meant a lot to him.
"It means a lot to me to be recognized for the work we're trained to do," said Guitteau, a southeast Portland resident who was driving home from work when he spotted the man and a person helping him on the side of the road. "I've been trained in emergency medicine for most of my career, so I've had a lot of (cardiac) arrests but almost none outside of the hospital."
While this meeting was held to honor the people who helped save lives, there's an annual breakfast held to honor the lives saved from cardiac events, 911 dispatchers, fire personnel, officers and AMR medics.
The exact date in 2020 is not yet confirmed.
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