By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published November 27, 2008
When the first English as a Second Language class began at Christ Our King and Savior on Wednesday, Nov. 5, no student expected the night to end with their teacher being airlifted to Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
Michael Moore, a parishioner, was teaching the course when he suddenly collapsed from a heart attack in front of his class.
Shock fell over the classroom full of adult students. Someone called 911 while others sought help in nearby classrooms.
Parishioner Bill Carman was with his wife, Judy, in another room attending a Bible study class when he heard the call for help.
Carman followed the sound and he entered the room to see his friend on the floor quickly losing the color in his face. He checked Moore’s vital signs but found no pulse, and Moore was not breathing.
Judy Carman, a registered nurse, began performing CPR on Moore as her husband went to get the automated external defibrillator that was purchased by the parish nearly four years ago.
Carman rushed back into the room and immediately used the AED on Moore in an attempt to revive him.
“Within just a few seconds, his color started to come back,” Carman recalled.
Shortly afterward, the paramedics arrived to care for Moore and fly him to Saint Joseph’s Hospital.
“They had my heart going again in three minutes,” said a joyful Moore, who noted that if it was much longer than that, he could have suffered brain damage.
Moore, who originally hails from South Africa, has been a parishioner with his wife, Carol, at Christ Our King and Savior for about five years.
Carman, a volunteer fireman, has been responsible for teaching other parishioners how to use the AED correctly. Both he and the pastor, Father Philip Ryan, felt it was important for parishioners to know how to use the device in case certain situations arise, such as the one on Nov. 5.
An AED is a portable electronic device, which automatically diagnoses possible life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient. Treating them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, the AED allows the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
AEDs are designed for use by the layman, and the use of the machine is taught in many first aid, first responder and basic life support level CPR classes.
Nearly 70 people at Christ Our King and Savior have learned how to use the AED thanks to Carman. And with this latest incident proving how vital AEDs can be, there is a renewed interest in learning how to operate them.
“We have a whole new horde of people wanting to learn how to use the AED,” Carman said.
And Moore feels that teaching more people how to use the AEDs is as important as having one and sharing that knowledge should be a top priority.
“That is the main message: that people need to know what to do,” he said.
There were a handful of people at the church that night who knew how to operate the AED and, while Carman was the one using the machine, he said that saving Moore’s life was a team effort.
“Lynn (Mallet) and her husband and other people there jumped up and participated,” he said. “(They) called 911 right away.”
“The hospital gave him a 20 percent chance to live,” said Mallet, who works at the Greensboro parish. But, she said, he was back home in just a few days.
“He is home and doing very well,” added Carman.
In fact, Moore was back attending Mass just a week later.
“They were all amazed to see him,” Carman said. “We are all so excited.”
The increased interest from parishioners about the ins and outs of using an AED has led Father Ryan and the community to consider purchasing another defibrillator for the portion of the property where the church sits. That way, there would be easy access to an AED no matter where an incident occurred.
And, according to Carman, timeliness is the most important factor when using an AED.
“That is the key—getting it done right away,” he said.
“His reaction time made all the difference,” Father Ryan added.
Carman even expressed his interest in traveling to other parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta to provide a service that has proven to be lifesaving.
“It was money well spent,” said Father Ryan.
Moore’s cheerful attitude is quite contagious. He has been telling his friends that at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 5, the good Lord called him home to heaven. But when he arrived they told him, “Sorry, we made a mistake, your room is not ready yet.”