Boardman neighbors praised as lifesavers

By Ashley Luthern


It was like any other Monday on Ewing Road.

Scott Hadley arrived home from his Canton commute shortly after 7 p.m. Dec. 17. He ate dinner with his wife, Darla, and their children, Caitlyn, Mark and Nathan.

Scott felt nauseated and tired, so he sat in the living room, guessing the feeling had been caused by the 15 miles he’d run the day before. He and Darla switched on the TV to the singing competition “The Voice.”

Across the street, Jeff and Wendy Thomas were watching old family movies with their sons, Cory, Kyle, Ethan and Andrew. Wendy glanced down from the screen as she untangled Christmas lights.

And that’s when the normalcy ended.

“I called for Darla, and that’s the last thing I remember,” Scott said.

Darla heard her husband say “Honey.”

“I turned around, and he was unresponsive. I told Caitlyn to get Wendy and Jeff. They came less than two minutes later,” Darla said.

Scott was having a heart attack. Wendy and Jeff, his neighbors of nine years, own Thomas Training Consultants, specializing in health care and child-care certification classes including CPR.

Caitlyn, 14, brought Wendy and Jeff to her dad, while her brother Mark, 17, called 911.

“Caitlyn was very calm and helped lower him to the floor,” Wendy said.

The Thomases began two-person CPR and their 18-year-old son, Cory, monitored their compression depth.

“When it’s somebody you know, it’s not the same. Fortunately, I demonstrate it several times a month. I still couldn’t imagine doing it on a family member. It was just unreal,” Wendy said.

The fire department received the emergency call at 8:50 p.m. and arrived five minutes later, though Jeff described it feeling “like an eternity.”

Capt. Brian Barber and firefighters Jon Lewis, Jeff Gallimore and Scott Hanlin began treating Scott Hadley with an automated external defibrillator (AED), which called for them to shock Scott.

“They were able to get his heart back into rhythm,” Darla said.

Scott was then taken to St. Elizabeth Heath Center by ambulance. Family, friends, neighbors, teachers and coaches anxiously waited at the hospital.

“It was amazing to be part of that large group in the waiting room waiting to hear any news,” Wendy said.

Scott was treated, and several days later traveled to the Cleveland Clinic for a defibrillator, but he was home in time for Christmas. “We’re so thankful. I’ve had no side effects at all,” Scott said.

Darla, who already was CPR-certified and works in physical therapy for ValleyCare Health Systems, and her family recently took CPR courses together. General CPR training consists of a three- to four-hour course.

“I had CPR training, but that went out the window when it was my husband,” Darla said. “If we come up against it again, we can follow through ourselves.”

“They can all save me now,” Wendy added.

Township trustees issued proclamations Jan. 14 recognizing the firefighters, and Wendy and Jeff, who said they just did what their neighbors would have done for them.

“We have a common bond in the neighborhood. Anybody would do whatever they can for anyone else,” Wendy said.

But Darla and Scott, who celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary last year, feel there was more at work during that day.

“Without them, he would not have made it. It’s a miracle,” Darla said. “...I felt God’s hand all over this. The timing was impeccable. You realize how precious life is and treasure every moment with loved ones.”

Scott echoed that, noting that only about an hour before the heart attack he was driving.

“I feel like God probably has something else in store for me,” he said.

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