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Monday, September 20, 2010

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Church Saves Great-Great-Grandmother during Service

Posted by cocreator on September 20, 2010

The last thing Sallie Sims remembers about going to a funeral last week at CrossPoint Church of Christ was wondering if she would know the fourth verse to the hymn “No Setting Sun.”

“I finished the song and then, the next thing, I was in an ambulance, and a man was trying to put oxygen on me,” Sims said. “I told him I didn’t like having anything on my face.”

Sims is living proof that having an automated external defibrillator, or AED, on site can make a difference in whether a person lives after the onset of sudden cardiac death.

CrossPoint bought its defibrillator in 2006 at the urging of a church elder. Staff members rushed to get the device when Sims collapsed.

Sallie Sims the Survivor

“We had just finished the music for the funeral, and the first speaker had gotten up when (Sims) fell over, out of her seat,” said CrossPoint preacher Frank Mills. “Someone yelled, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ and luckily we had several there at that time, and they rushed to her.”

Bob Man, a local physician, said Sims didn’t have a pulse and was turning blue.

“We were giving CPR, by compressions and mouth-to-mouth, and she was shocked (with the defibrillator),” he said. “She didn’t start back right after she was shocked, and the machine was getting ready to shock her a second time when she started breathing on her own again.”

“Based on what I’ve been told, I’m convinced if not for the church having that (AED) she would not be with us today,” said Sims’ niece, Stacy White. “She was gone; there was no heart beat, but thanks to the defibrillator, she’s alive.”

White said her aunt doesn’t have a history of heart problems and didn’t have any symptoms, nor did she feel bad the day of the funeral. But the 71-year-old great-great-grandmother had to have five stents placed in the arteries in her heart.

“When I saw her in the emergency room, I told her she didn’t look like she had just had a heart attack,” White said. “She looked good, just like always.”

Mann said Sims suffered a sudden cardiac death because of a rhythm problem.

Bruce Carson, director of Keller and Lauderdale EMS, said the situation with Sims is a perfect example of how AEDs are intended to be utilized.

“This is the outcome that all emergency professionals want to see,” Carson said. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that early defibrillation and CPR saved this woman’s life. The swift action by the people there, and the early shock, was the absolute key to her survival.”

He said all volunteer fire departments and first responders have AEDs.

Mann said two years ago a similar situation occurred at Walmart in Florence.

“A woman was there, and she had a heart attack,” Mann said. “The store had an AED, and the manager used it to bring her back. I would encourage any public place to have them.”

Mark Killen, recreation outreach minister at CrossPoint, said church staff have gone through basic CPR training and have been trained on how to use the defibrillator.

“We’re considering buying a portable oxygen tank just to have in case of emergencies, and we plan on having refresher courses for the staff and any members who want to attend,” Killen said.

He said the situation with Sims was the first time the church used the AED.

“Our hope is that it hangs on the wall and we never have to use it again,” Killen said.

“There is a need for these in all churches and all public places,” said Jerry Dowd, who was sitting next to Sims when she collapsed. “Until you see it work, you may be skeptical, but I saw the results. Even if you only have to use it once, it pays dividends like in this case.”

Sims said Mann came to see her in the intensive care unit after her surgery to place the stents in her arteries.

“He said he would not call me lucky, but that I had a blessed day,” she said. “Without that machine, I wouldn’t have made it. The machine was my salvation.

“I’ve been told I was a medical miracle,” she said. “I must be.”

Sims’ friend, Julia Dowd, said while the doctors and other emergency medical officials worked on Sims at the church, people in the church prayed.

“It was a like a Hallmark story with a happy ending,” she said.

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