SPRINGFIELD – Right place. Right time. Right training. Life saved.
Springfield resident Cindy Koza, 33, took charge of a dire situation by performing CPR on someone who suffered a heart attack on Jan. 12 on South A St.
“Every minute counts, and thankfully, the police were really quick to respond,” Koza said. “I don’t know what would have happened if (CPR) was even a minute delayed.”
As the owner of Rise & Shine Social Enterprise, a company which brings ethical practices and positive energy into the foster care industry, Koza was working there at 225 Main St. when someone ran into the office and asked for help, announcing that a man had passed out right behind the Rise & Shine building.
The man — whose name could not be confirmed by press time — was on South A Street between Lee’s Mongolian Grill on South 2nd Street and Taco Time on Pioneer Parkway.
Katrina Purdy, owner and instructor of Oregon CPR – a Springfield-based company which provides a variety of CPR and first aid classes – said that speed in administering CPR can be the difference between a life saved and a life lost in this instance.
Although heart attacks aren’t typically a good luck omen, this man happened to have a heart attack right behind Rise & Shine, which provides CPR training for all of its employees. Further, Koza has 17 years of CPR training in her back pocket.
This was the first time she had to use her training in an emergency situation.
“I ran out there, and he wasn’t breathing. He didn’t have a pulse. It was really scary, honestly,” Koza said. “He wasn’t really reacting, and then about two minutes into it, all of a sudden he started breathing. I just kept going.”
She said she administered CPR for about five minutes, only stopping when an Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper arrived. Trooper Tragen Smart, who just happened to be in the area, switched places with her, continuing the CPR.
Brian Austin, a Springfield Police Department (SPD) animal control officer, arrived at the scene after hearing some information from SPD dispatch. The community member who called dispatch said there was a woman performing CPR on a man on Main Street – not South A Street — slightly delaying their arrival at the scene.
“One of our officers was pretty close to the area and said he couldn’t see anybody that looked like they were suffering a cardiac arrest, anybody doing CPR, or anything like that on Main Street,” Austin said. “Luckily, I had continued down Pioneer Parkway. I looked over, and I saw the Oregon State Police trooper had pulled his car up onto the curb. I saw him with the patient performing CPR… I let our dispatch know the corrected information of where the patient actually was so they could let EMS (emergency medical services) know.”
After grabbing the automated external defibrillator (AED) – a piece of medical technology which is used to analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock to help it re-establish its rhythm – Austin got out of his truck, which he parked behind Smart’s car.
He said Smart had the victim partially on his side in a recovery position because he was somewhat breathing, but Austin noted it was agonal breathing: a type of breathing in which the person is gasping for air because they are not receiving enough oxygen.
“When I observed that it was just agonal breathing … I asked the trooper to continue performing CPR. We put him back on his back, and Smart started doing CPR again,” he said. He said he deployed the AED pads, which analyzed his heart and sent a shock through it.
Austin has worked as an officer for SPD for 13 years, and he has been the department’s CPR and AED instructor for about seven. He said, although this was his first experience personally deploying an AED, these devices are utilized rather often. AEDs don’t often recommend shocking the person, though. Austin added that SPD has only had one other instance where the AED advised shocking the victim, mentioning an incident which happened last year on South 2nd Street.
“There is a misconception that an AED is what you think of when you think of a defibrillator from a movie or TV show: a machine where they’re putting panels on somebody’s chest. That can add a little more juice to it, but these are specifically meant to fix correctable heart rhythm,” Austin said. “These can’t start somebody’s heart again, but if their heart’s already working – it’s just not working effectively – this corrects that.”
After SPD officers had administered the AED, which was followed by about a minute of CPR, EMS loaded the victim onto a gurney and transported him to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.
AED provides downloadable feedback and data starting from the moment it’s deployed. After downloading the information at SPD, he sent the data to PeaceHealth. The AED provided a full report for the doctors, which included the rhythm of the victim’s heart prior to the heart attack and what rhythm the AED corrected him to.
According to SPD, the victim had open-heart surgery and was released from RiverBend during the last few days of January, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
Austin encourages everyone to obtain CPR training with one of Springfield’s many local organizations which provides classes taught by CPR and first-aid professionals. Purdy agreed with Austin, emphasizing that even basic training is important because “anyone can have cardiac arrest for any reason. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, anything.”
Purdy was inspired to start Oregon CPR in 2011 after her healthy, athletic, 33-year-old stepbrother had a heart attack, causing her to thoroughly research the risks which come with heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
“CPR increases the success rate of cardiac arrest survival,” Purdy said. “Even in the Eugene-Springfield area, we’ve gone from a 12% success rate to a 61% success rate just by having bystanders know what to do in case of an emergency by bringing awareness to it. Just learning how to provide more pressure with your hands and feeling comfortable to provide compressions has made a huge impact already.”