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Chambersburg Fire Dept. paramedic and quick-thinking residents save two in a week

July 12, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Charles Staley of Chambersburg, Pa., got a new lease on life after he was saved by Chambersburg paramedic Scott McNew.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Paramedic Scott McNew wouldn't consider himself a hero, but he is to two Chambersburg men for giving them a second chance at life.

During the week of June 13, Randall Helman, 66, and Charles Staley, 83, suffered heart attacks.

Both said they are alive today thanks to concerned residents using cardiopulmonary resuscitation and McNew of the Chambersburg Fire Department using an automatic external defibrillator.

"He's a hero," Helman said of McNew. "People like him are needed."

When McNew met Helman at the fire company, he was shocked at how spunky Helman was so soon after his June 13 attack.

"Happy endings like these are rare," McNew said. "Every other time you go out, and you're unsuccessful. These stories right here that you get success out of make it well worth the effort and the time spent training."

According to the American Heart Association website, less than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.

Helman was helping someone move when he collapsed.

"I must have passed out because I don't remember anything until I woke up in the (Chambersburg) hospital," he said. "I took the stuff out to the truck, and that's the last thing I remember."

Helman said he has no history of heart disease.

A retired registered nurse performed CPR for about five minutes before McNew and medical personnel arrived on the scene.

"I think more people ought to learn CPR because you never know when it's going to happen to you," Helman said. "I'm lucky."

He said he will have open-heart surgery to clear three blockages in his chest.

Terry Newcomer, a Chambersburg Fire Department firefighter/emergency medical technician, said the borough started purchasing AEDs in the late 1990s. It currently has 24 AEDs.

"Most of the time, it doesn't work out very well," he said. "It's the combination of early CPR and AEDs that helps with success."

Newcomer said the AEDs are used about two to three times a month.

Staley had a routine eye appointment with Dr. James C. Kiskaddon of Chambersburg on June 16 when he collapsed in the exam room.

"We were talking. He turned around to write something, and that's the last thing I remember," said Staley, who, like Helman, had no warning signs before the collapse.

Kiskaddon reacted quickly and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, and McNew shocked him with the AED.

Not only does Staley credit Kiskaddon for saving his life, but he also thinks rescue personnel deserve more thanks.

"We see them going places and wonder where the ambulance is going, but I think they deserve a lot of credit," Staley said. "People don't recognize the important job they do. I think they do a great community service, and they don't hear that enough."

"Cardiac arrest is an event that happens when you least expect it. It could be a friend, neighbor or member of your own family," Kiskaddon said. "You need to have a basic understanding of how to approach such a situation. For this reason, CPR classes are vitally important for everyone in our community."

Laura Weis, communications director for the American Heart Association, said less than one third of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander.

She said the heart association has made a move to hands-only CPR.

"What we found was a lot of people tend to hesitate before doing CPR because they're uncomfortable doing the mouth-to-mouth portion of it," Weis said. "As long as people are pushing hard and fast in the center of someone's chest at approximately 100 compressions per minute, that is better certainly than standing by and doing nothing. What we call the hands-only or compressions-only CPR is an effective method of CPR."

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