A close call uncovers an important need

Last April, a group of men were gathered to play cards at the American Legion Post 47, when Jim Catanzaro, the son of a legion member, heard an unsettling noise.

“They were over in the corner playing cards, and I heard a thud, and then another thud,” he recalled. That thud was the sound of member Joe Kohl hitting the ground, clearly in medical distress. “One of the guys he was playing cards with said he didn’t have a pulse. The bartender called 911. I went over and started doing CPR. It seemed like he was starting to come around.”

The request that followed left the group feeling helpless. “I was on the phone with 911 and they asked us to get a defibrillator, and we didn’t have one,” Jim said. “I kept doing CPR until the paramedics got there and got him to the hospital.” Cardiologist later confirmed that Joe had been in full cardiac arrest. The CPR Jim performed saved his life. “I hadn’t had any training at that time, other than what I’d seen on medical shows. Now I’m certified in CPR. I don’t know why the thought of doing it bothers folks. If a person’s down, they need a little help.”

The incident uncovered the need for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at the post. “It makes sense,” Jim said. “We’re the largest post in northeast Indiana, and I think the average age of our members is 76 or higher. Things like this can happen.” So, the group shared their story with local media and put out a call, which we heard loud and clear.

“AEDs save lives,” Mike GeRue, COO, Parkview Heart Institute said. “I was excited that the legion reached out looking for support and that we had the ability to support them. They aren’t the first non-profit and won’t be the last that we help. We have helped universities, airports, Science Central and the Noble County Police acquire machines. The application of an AED machine in communities is associated with nearly a doubling of survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. These results reinforce the importance of strategically expanding community-based AED programs.”

An important component of installing the AED, is following up with the proper training. “Learning how to use the AED will help you when the time comes when you need to use it,” Mike said. “The same holds true for CPR. It’s a skill you hope you never have to use, but if you have to use it you want to know how to do it. Minutes count for survival and optimal outcome.”

Jim has gone through the proper training for the new AED machine. “It looks lovely on the wall, and it’s ready,” Jim said. As for his reputation as a hero, Jim feels it’s quite simple. “I see Joe at the legion, and I know his family. He always jokes, ‘If I’m playing cards you can’t leave until I leave!’ I don’t know … I just did what I hope somebody would do for me.”

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