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Friday, March 11, 2011

Naperville student praised for quick CPR action

Every Naperville Central High School student is required to complete a CPR course before they graduate, with the hope they never have to use it.

On Sunday night, Central junior John McCarthy, who is only halfway through the class, had to use it and it worked.

McCarthy is being credited by Palos Park firefighters for helping save the life of a man injured in a one-car crash in the southwest suburb.

Palos Park Fire Chief Steve Carr said a husband and wife were driving home Sunday evening on 131st Street, two blocks west of LaGrange Road, when the husband had an undisclosed “health episode” and lost control of the car.

“The driver left the roadway and drove into a condominium subdivision where he struck a utility pole and transformer box before he crashed into a condo building,” Carr said. “The vehicle was in bad shape and all of the air bags were deployed.”

McCarthy, who Carr said was visiting family members in the subdivision, came upon the scene and saw the wife attempting CPR. Carr said McCarthy evaluated the situation and told the woman he was trained in CPR and could help.

“(McCarthy) was quickly able to determine there was no pulse and the man was not breathing,” Carr said. “So he did his compressions and performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took over.”

Carr would not identify the driver but said he was being treated at Palos Community Hospital.

“This young man made a positive difference in the outcome of this call,” Carr said. “I don’t know what the outcome would have been had this young man not been in the right place at the right time. His actions afforded this gentleman every opportunity to survive this episode.”

Word of McCarthy’s heroics quickly spread through the halls of Naperville Central. Physical education coordinator Neil Duncan said he sought McCarthy out to congratulate him.

“He saved a life with his training but his comment to me was ‘anyone in class would have done the same thing,’” Duncan said. “I’d like to think that, too, but we’re all very impressed with his actions.”

Carr said he was impressed with both McCarthy and the training he received and will honor the student at a Palos Fire Protection District board meeting.

“I believe it takes a great amount of resolve to jump into a situation like that and act on behalf of a complete stranger,” Carr said. “So a selfless act like this needs to be recognized.”

McCarthy was unavailable for comment Monday.

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