Exhibitor Giveaway Helped Respiratory Therapist Save a Life

 Updated: November 23, 2015

Exhibitors who display their wares at the AARC Congress and Summer Forum love to have lots of giveaways on hand to help attendees remember their booths when they get home, and that was certainly the case at the recently concluded AARC Congress in Tampa, FL.

Terri LesserTerri Lesser, RRT, used a Draeger mask she received at a Summer Forum exhibitor booth to save a life.

Most therapists just stash these freebies away when they get home, but Terri Lesser, RRT, stowed one item she received at the Summer Forum in 2012 in her purse, and as she told Draeger representative Ed Coombs, MA, RRT, FAARC, when she went by the Draeger booth in Tampa, it ended up helping her save a life.

It was January of 2013 and she and her daughter were shopping at their local Sam’s Club. Lesser’s daughter saw a man collapse and immediately yelled for her mom to come over.

Lesser went to the man and 911 was called. She saw he wasn’t breathing and told her daughter to get her little Draeger giveaway mask on a keychain out of her purse and give it to her. “She dumped out my purse and found it and I started CPR.”

Another shopper — who turned out to be a charge nurse in the spine center at Stormont Vail Health Care in Topeka, KS, where Lesser works as a staff therapist — came over to help, and between the two of them they continued CPR until the paramedics arrived.

“He was taken to the hospital where he was admitted to the ICU and placed on a vent,” said Lesser. She later learned he had recently suffered a heart attack and had just been released from the hospital a few days earlier. “He had a defibrillator placed, and apparently it wasn’t working very well.”

Thanks to her quick action — plus that little giveaway mask she got from the Draeger folks at the Summer Forum — the man lived to tell the tale. Turns out he and his wife are regular volunteers at the hospital too, so Lesser gets to see him on a fairly regular basis.

“Whenever they’re at the hospital for something, they come find us and we have a little hug fest,” said the AARC member.