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Daughter used training to save dad's life

June 20, 2004|By WANDA WILLIAMS

While a student at Hagerstown Community College, Carol Grove said her father wasn't exactly thrilled when she decided to change her major from business to nursing.

Today, 14 years later, the Washington County Hospital nurse educator is thankful she did.

She never dreamed she'd use her training to save her father's life.

It happened on May 20, 2003, a day Grove and her family say they never will forget.

"It was pretty bad. It was pretty scary," Grove said, recalling the ordeal that started with a phone call from her mother, Gloria "Jean" Shives.

"I wasn't even sure she'd be home. She was supposed to be at work that day," Shives said.

Grove said she was getting ready to leave her home when the phone rang.

"Mom said, 'Something is wrong with Daddy. I need you to come down.' She didn't even sound alarmed," said Grove, who assumed her father had sustained a minor injury. She drove to her parents' home three miles away.


When she arrived, she ran to her parents' bedroom, where her mother was on the phone receiving instructions from 911 dispatchers on how to administer CPR to her father.

Ernest Shives, 76, was in cardiac arrest and was unconscious on the floor. Jean Shives said her efforts to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation weren't working. Ernest Shives had no pulse and no respiration, according to Grove, who took over CPR while her mother rushed outside to meet paramedics from Hancock's Rescue Squad 59.

The squad passed their Tollgate Ridge Road home twice before they found the house, family members said. Their house actually is in Pennsylvania, just over the Maryland state line, at the corner of Tollgate Ridge and Orchard roads. Rescue Squad 59 responded because it was the closest emergency services provider.

"She would come in screaming, 'They just went by again.' It was horrible," Grove said.

Grove continued to perform CPR, which she said kept blood circulating to her father's heart and other vital organs until the paramedics arrived.

Shives was taken to Washington County Hospital and later transferred to Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. He was there for three days before he returned to Washington County Hospital, where a defibrillator was implanted in his chest. The device gives an electrical shock to his heart when he experiences an irregular heart rhythm, Grove said. And while it's gone off several times, Ernest Shives still leads an active life.

Within a few months, he returned to his part-time job reading water meters and cutting grass for the town of Hancock, he said. A 1994 heart attack survivor, Ernest experienced some memory loss following his cardiac arrest, but no permanent neurological damage from a lack of oxygen or other side effects, his daughter said.

There is a difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, according to American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Deborah Barbour of Chevy Chase, Md.

A heart attack occurs when heart muscle cells die following an interruption of blood flow to the arteries supplying blood to the heart. Cardiac arrest occurs when an abnormal heart rhythm causes the heart to stop pumping, she said.

"Put simply, a heart attack is caused by a plumbing problem and a cardiac arrest is caused by an electrical problem," Barbour said.

Ernest Shives said his brush with death has strengthened his family's bond and love for one another.

"It boils down to about three things: the good Lord, a good wife, a good family and daughter," he said.

Grove and her parents said they credit a higher power with giving her father another chance.

"Daddy wasn't done doing good things yet," she said as she squeezed her father's hand.

In May, Grove was recognized for her courage and ability to perform CPR on her father, receiving the Citizen's Award at Washington County's annual Emergency Medical Services Awards Banquet. Grove said she appreciates the honor, but her biggest reward is having her father around for another Father's Day.

"You don't really know until you come so close to losing someone what's really important - having a family that's whole," she said.

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