By Robin Hartman
Larry Caudill thought this weekend’s men’s basketball league would be just like most of the others he’s attended and officiated – a fun community event, with a few jokes and some sideline comments. But things turned serious when his friend Rick Wooton suddenly asked for help to stand.
“I turned around and he was laying on the ground,” Caudill said. “He was gasping for breath and he didn’t have a pulse.”
Caudill, an environmental scientist in the Hazard branch of the Division of Mine Reclamation and Enforcement, and Bobby Ratliff, a teacher in the Perry County school system, called for an AED (a medical device used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest) and began CPR. “We used the AED one time, but continued CPR for about 10 minutes,” Caudill said. By the time the ambulance arrived, Mr. Wooton was breathing on his own and conscious.
“It was a scary, scary incident,” Caudill said. “When I got to my truck, that’s when it hit me and I broke down. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline, or the shock of what just happened…”
Caudill had just updated his CPR certification through the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Training and Development Branch.
The CPR, AED, and Basic First Aid Training course is provided monthly to any employee interested in receiving certification, and to field offices as a requirement. The class lasts five to six hours and includes plenty of time for skills practice. Course topics include: the role of the first aid provider; protecting yourself; sudden cardiac arrest, including CPR, using an AED, and the multiple provider approach to CPR; choking; control of bleeding; shock; stroke; poisoning; altered mental status; head, neck, and back injuries; nosebleed; burns; heat and cold emergencies, and more. Once completed, certification is good for two years.
Approximately 800 of EEC’s 1,400 employees have training in first aid. The cabinet maintains seven instructors who provide two or more classes each year. Approximately 400 employees are trained each year in CPR, AED, and Basic First Aid.
Trainer Kristy Sims recently had the opportunity to put the skills she teaches others to work for herself. While on vacation at a pool, a young boy had become unresponsive. “I rushed to get out of the pool and I informed the mom that I know CPR,” Kristy said. There was no response from the boy as an ambulance was called.
“We didn’t know if the boy had actually gotten water in his lungs or if he was dehydrated, since he had been in the hot tub. My husband suggested the dad turn the boy over and I began to perform back thrusts. Water came out of the boy’s lungs then, and he took a breath of air.”
Sims recommends calling 911 immediately when an incident arises. Beforehand, make a conscious effort to locate the AED/first aid kit at the facility you are visiting, even if you’ll only be there a short amount of time.
Caudill encourages others to take the free training and get certified. “My main reason for taking the course is because I have kids, and I always want to help them if they need it. I’ve always thought I’ll never need this. And then something like this happens, and you remember that training. I’m just glad [Mr. Wooton] is okay.”
At the time of publication, Mr. Wooton was improving at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Healthcare Medical Center.