CPR trainer uses knowledge to save mayor's life
At Deschutes Valley Water District last week, Bob Ringering was doing his job — teaching CPR.
He guesses he's taught the four-hour class through the Special Districts Association 250 times or so.
Until last May, however, he'd never had a chance to put his knowledge into practice.
It was about 11 a.m. May 1, and Ringering and a friend were out practicing at Desert Peaks Golf Course before their noon tee-off.
"And there was a guy out on another hole, and he was just getting ready to tee off on the No. 2 hole," Ringering said. But then he started "yelling and yelling and yelling. He pointed to the guy ... on the fairway between us."
A man was lying on the fairway. At the time, Ringering didn't know the man was Madras Mayor Richard Ladeby. He was just someone who needed help.
Ladeby has no recollection of collapsing. He remembers getting out of his car at the golf course and doesn't remember anything for the next two days — not talking with Teresa Lindgren at the clubhouse for about 20 minutes, not going out to golf, not any pain.
"His eyes were glassed over," Ringering said. He would later learn that Ladeby hadn't had oxygen for more than five minutes, according to the pacemaker he used because his heart rate sometimes became too low at night.
Ringering's friend thought Ladeby was dead, but Ringering said, "We still have to try, though."
Ringering had always wondered, "Can I actually do what I've been trained to do?"
"But I had no problem," he told the students at DVWD.
"Did you feel ribs break or anything like that?" one student asked.
"Nope," he said. He was fortunate that he didn't break Ladeby's ribs. It's always a possibility when performing CPR.
Ringering had been taught that a person becomes "like jelly" after they collapse, but he'd never experienced it.
"The first thing that really surprised me was how easy it is to pop and tear the cartilage," Ringering said. And he didn't realize how relaxed a person's body becomes.
"It took me a little bit of time to find where I needed to perform the compressions at," he said.
Ringering performed three repetitions of compressions and breaths.
"The mayor started breathing just a little bit," he said. The breaths were shallow and short, but they were there.
After about 10 seconds, Ringering was going to move him to the recovery position, but Ladeby stopped breathing again.
Ringering did another repetition, and Ladeby started breathing but stopped again.
So Ringering did one more repetition.
"And this time he kept breathing," Ringering said. "We watched him for quite a while."
By that time, three or four police cars and at least two EMT rigs had arrived, Ringering said.
Meanwhile, Teresa Lindgren had brought a defibrillator from the clubhouse.
"After they got there and took over, then I just left the scene," Ringering said. "After 15 minutes or so, then the helicopter flew in."
Two days later, Ringering had to go to the doctor. He told his wife, "Let's see if we can stop in and see him."
Hospital staff wouldn't let them visit, but they ran into Ladeby's wife, Cheryl, who invited them to meet Ladeby.
"We got to visit with him for a good half an hour or so," Ringering said. By that time, Ladeby was sitting up and looked good.
For the previous two days, he had been in a medically induced coma while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong.
"If it wasn't for that man there," Ladeby said, pointing at Ringering, "I wouldn't be here."
"The good Lord had everything lined up," Ladeby said.
From Ringering and all the emergency responders to a retired surgeon who occasionally visits St. Charles to work on whatever cases he finds interesting, Ladeby credits God with saving his life.
Doctors finally diagnosed him with ventricular tachycardia, a heart rhythm disorder. But they also found that his third artery was 99% blocked, and he needed bypass surgery, though that wasn't what caused his collapse.
"It was a blessing that they found it," Ladeby said. "If the good Lord didn't intervene in this, I wouldn't be here."
Ladeby said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and concern from the community.
Ladeby said he is about 95% recovered. He doesn't worry about death, but he hopes more volunteers will step up to take his place when it comes to community involvement.
"I feel my purpose is to give back to the community," he said. All positions on the City Council, including the mayor, are unpaid.
He was happy to see Jennifer Holcomb and Leticia Montano step up, especially because he and two other city councilors have had significant health concerns over the past couple of years.
"We need people to be passionate about what they do," he said.
Recognition for Ringering
Madras Police Chief Tanner Stanfill wanted to honor Ringering in some way, and he and Jefferson County Emergency Medical Services Chief Mike Lepin talked about how to do so.
Lepin nominated Ringering for a Civilian Service Award from Oregon Emergency Medical Services and the Oregon Health Authority, which he received in Salem on Sept. 27.
"It felt good to be recognized," Ringering said.
Some people have touted using compressions alone rather than compressions and breaths in CPR, but Ringering believes it was breaths that brought Ladeby back.
"It really kind of reinforced what I've been teaching because what I've been teaching worked," he said.
He's still teaching, both through Special Districts Association, which is a risk management company, and through Central Oregon Community College, where he has classes for local businesses.
Now, after that fateful May 1 day at the golf course, Ringering's teaching can include a very personal lesson of success — success that saved a life.
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