Kelli Chronister was pedaling up a steep hill near the end a 25-mile race when her RT skills were called into action.
Last July, Kelli Chronister, MS, RRT-NPS, CPFT, was on mile 22 of a 25-mile biking event called the Sweet Corn Challenge when one of the riders up ahead of her suddenly went down on his bike.
“I was about 30 feet behind a male rider when I noticed he sat up, turned back, had a blank look on his face, and fell from the bike,” says the assistant professor and director of clinical education for the RT program at the University of Akron in Akron, OH. “It took me about ten seconds to get to his side and realize he had no pulse and appeared to be in cardiac arrest.”
Chronister immediately yelled to her biking partner, Kristen, to call 911, and then she started CPR, assisted by two other riders who had rushed to the man’s side as well. They took turns performing compressions for about four or five minutes until the paramedics arrived. The man was immediately defibrillated and placed in an ambulance.
That was the last she heard of the case until a couple of weeks later, when she learned the gentleman had undergone bypass surgery and then headed home to Vermont. A former resident of the Akron area, he had come back to town for a visit and decided to participate in the Sweet Corn Challenge.
“He was riding with his wife and his daughter, who were waiting for him at the top of the hill where he had the arrest event,” says the AARC member.
Red Cross Honor
Relieved to find out he was doing okay, Chronister put the incident aside and went on with her busy life as an RT educator. But her community wasn’t ready to let her service go. Earlier this year she learned she would be recognized by the local Red Cross as one of ten 2016 Acts of Courage honorees.
She received the award at a ceremony held in early March. “It was inspiring to be there with nine other community members who had participated in a lifesaving event,” she says. ”This included a nine-year-old who had used the Heimlich on his friend after merely seeing a poster in the cafeteria — his friend was choking on a cheese puff at a birthday party!”
Chronister says several of her friends attended the awards ceremony to cheer her on, and she knows a number of other people who inquired about learning CPR after finding out about her experience. That, she emphasizes, has been the very best thing to come out of the recognition she received.
Says the RT, “I was certainly happy I could help bring more awareness to the lifesaving act of CPR.”
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