Saturday, February 07, 2009
sponsored by Quiznos

Heartsaver heroes from Lincoln

Send a link to a friend

[February 07, 2009]  COLLINSVILLE -- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Collinsville High School athletic director Matt Badgley, Collinsville High School athletic trainer Amanda Baugher and Collinsville Fire Chief Peter Stehman may not possess supernatural skills, wear capes or drive super-vehicles, but they have earned the title of American Heart Hero by taking a few critical steps that helped save the life of Gary L. Gustafson, a referee who collapsed in December during the championship Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic basketball game at Collinsville High School.

From left to right are Pete Stehman, Gov. Pat Quinn, Lisa Brown-Sabatino, Debbie Ramlow, Amanda Baugher and Matt Badgley.

(Click on picture for larger image.)

Some quick-thinking bystanders from the stands -- Lincoln residents Ann Olson, Debbie Ramlow, Scott Ritchhart and Karen Hobler -- began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and 911 was called. Soon after, Baugher, Badgley and Stehman arrived with the automated external defibrillator and used it to administer a shock that restarted Gustafson's heart.


The AED was available thanks to an Illinois state law called the Colleen O'Sullivan Act, requiring the equipment to be on-site at all times in all schools and public athletic facilities. O'Sullivan, a staff attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives, died of heart complications in 2002 after exercising at a health club.

Quinn was a driving force behind that landmark legislation and also helped create the Heartsaver AED Fund, which helps provide matching grants to schools, park district facilities and fitness facilities.

"It was a team effort," said J.R. Dietl, president and director of training at Contemporary Life Saving Training in O'Fallon and a member of the American Heart Association's Illinois Advocacy Committee. "The whole reason Gary Gustafson is alive today is that the bystanders acted quickly, the school implemented the program, people were trained, and the AED was easily accessible. Everything that should have happened did."

The American Heart Association honored Quinn on Friday with the Heart Champion Award for his pioneering efforts to strengthen the emergency medical chain of survival by promoting lifesaving AED technology throughout Illinois.


The association also presented its American Heart Hero Award to Baugher, Badgley and Stehman for their fast response and heroic effort to save a life by using an AED in an emergency.

At a separate event in Lincoln, Olson, Ramlow, Ritchhart and Hobler will be recognized for their roles in the save.

"By making AEDs available, people who use a few simple skills achieve something extraordinary -- they save lives," Dietl said. "Today, these ‘Heartsavers' are the heroes, but all Metro East residents can easily become tomorrow's heroes by knowing to call 911 and being ready to perform CPR or use an AED."

In Missouri, the American Heart Association is looking at a current statute to improve access to automated external defibrillators there so that more lives can be saved. The American Heart Association is also challenging all Metro East residents to learn how to perform CPR on someone who suddenly collapses and stops breathing normally, and is encouraging businesses, public sites and other entities to consider implementing programs making automated external defibrillators and trained rescuers available to administer a potentially lifesaving electric shock to the heart.

Collinsville High School is off to a great start, according to Dietl. The school trained 500 students in CPR last year and plans to train 500 more this year. They have also trained more than 380 staff members and 38 coaches, he said.

[to top of second column]

Sudden cardiac arrest is most often caused by an irregular heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. This irregular rhythm causes the heart's electrical impulses to become chaotic, causing the victim to collapse and stop breathing normally. Unless a normal heart rhythm is restored, death will follow in a matter of minutes. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that for every minute without defibrillation, a person's chances of survival decrease by 7 percent to 10 percent.

Each year, more than 310,000 people across the country die from coronary heart disease before reaching a hospital or in an emergency room. Most of those deaths result from sudden cardiac arrest, and 75 percent to 80 percent occur at home. When the arrest occurs outside the hospital setting, most victims die because CPR and defibrillation were not provided or were provided too late. Less than a third of sudden cardiac arrest victims receive CPR when they need it. Effective CPR can help make the difference between life and death, buying valuable time and increasing the likelihood that the victim can successfully be defibrillated by an electric shock.


The American Heart Association provides a full range of training and information to help people learn to perform effective CPR. Family & Friends CPR Anytime is a training program that can be used at home by multiple family members. Infant CPR Anytime is a similar self-directed program with instruction on performing CPR on an infant (12 months or younger). For additional information, visit, or call 1-877-AHA-4CPR.


About the American Heart Association

Founded in 1924, the AHA is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases -- America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers -- the association funds cutting-edge research, conducts lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocates to protect public health. To learn more or join the association in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

[Text from file received from American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate]

Previous related article


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor