Published: November 29, 2006
Reprinted with permission from The Norman Transcript
Training Makes a Life of
By Tom Blakey
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT (NORMAN, Okla.)
NORMAN, Okla.- One never knows when CPR training may actually save someone's life, says Master Police Officer Lance Arnold.
"Knowing you helped someone to live and to thrive ... It's an experience that can change your outlook on life," said Arnold, a nine-year Norman police officer.
Arnold and resident Robert Lee were honored for
the actions they took in saving the life of Robert Staples last August. Arnold
was presented a Norman Police Department Lifesaving Award, and Lee was given a
Civilian Service Medal. Staples, a 71-year-old retired Marine and marathon
runner, was participating in the Ike Hike, a 5-kilometer run and fundraiser for
Eisenhower Elementary School, when he
collapsed Aug. 12.
Arnold was controlling traffic for the event, when a runner told him that someone had collapsed on the course. Arnold said he ran about a quarter of a mile to where Staples had collapsed in the street, in full cardiac arrest.
"He was unconscious and wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse," he said. A woman had stopped to help, and although she identified herself as a nurse, she seemed "at a loss as to what to do," Arnold said.
"I think she kind of freaked out," he said.
The nurse said she didn't have a mask with which to perform CPR, and Arnold realized he'd left his back in his patrol car.
Arnold said at that point one of the runners "plopped down" and began to assist him, saying, "I don't need a mask."
Most people are reluctant to get involved in rescue attempts for fear of getting sued or having it "come back on them," Arnold said.
Arnold said Lee had a "calming effect" on the emergency, and for the next 10 minutes and "what seemed like an hour," Arnold and Lee performed CPR on Staples until firefighters arrived.
"More than anything, it was a team effort," he said.
Arnold said he and Lee worked together as a team until the firefighters arrived, firefighters worked together as a team until the paramedics arrived, and paramedics worked together as a team until Staples was delivered to the emergency department.
"The remarkable thing is that Mr. Lee quietly disappeared back into the crowd and finished the course out," he said.
Arnold later found out Lee's name and nominated him for the Civilian Service Medal. "He didn't have to do what he did - it took a lot of courage," he said.
Almost four months after his heart attack, Staples said he's back to running 5 miles at a time.
"For once I'm trying to use common sense and listen to the doctor's advice," he said.
Staples has no memory of his collapse.
"I got off work on Friday and went back to work eight days later. Those are the only memories I've got," he said.
Prior to Tuesday's council meeting, Staples said he was looking forward to thanking Arnold and Lee.
"God bless them. I'm sure glad they were there at the time. If they hadn't been there, with the type of ventricular fibrillation that I had, the doctors said less than 1 percent survive.
"The good Lord was taking care of me," he said.
Tom Blakey writes for The Norman (Okla.)
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