By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Midway through performing CPR on their unresponsive neighbor, reality set in for Jeff and Wendy Thomas: This heart attack wasn’t part of a practice scenario in one of their health-care certification classrooms.
“For every class that we teach, we always begin by telling students to stay calm. Being calm is contagious,” said Jeff Thomas, who owns Thomas Training Consultants with his wife. “That being said, all bets are off when it’s family or a friend.”
After a few seconds of disbelief, Jeff and Wendy Thomas returned their focus to the task at hand and were able to help Scott Hadley — a husband, father of three and their neighbor of nearly 10 years — until Boardman Fire Department crews arrived five minutes later. Capt. Brian Barber and firefighters Jon Lewis, Jeff Gallimore and Scott Hanlin then treated Hadley with an automated external defibrillator, or an AED.
For their life-saving efforts in December, the Thomases, along with the Boardman Fire Department crew, will be honored today at the 15th annual Emergency Medical Services Star of Life Awards ceremony in Powell.
Jeff Thomas said he and his wife were humbled when they found out about winning the award at the end of April.
“It’s not something you really do for recognition. You do it because you care about somebody,” Jeff Thomas said. “You step in as a neighbor, a friend, and you offer assistance to people you care about. You hope people would do the same for you.”
Boardman Fire Chief George Brown said this is the Boardman Fire Department’s first EMS Star of Life Award. About 10 people, including himself and the Thomases, plan to attend today’s ceremony.
“It’s a win-win situation, with the combination of community involvement and the rapid response of firefighters,” Brown said.
Just one group from each region in Ohio is selected to receive the award, and Region 10 encompasses Ashtabula, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, Brown said. Eight regional stars will be recognized.
Jeff Thomas said he’s appreciative of the honor, but is mostly grateful that his neighbor is OK.
“Learning the steps to save a life are so simple. The first person there really makes the biggest difference,” Jeff Thomas said. “Every time I see [Hadley] walking out the door for a run, it’s a joyful experience.”
The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Division of EMS and the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians in Ohio sponsor the EMS Star of Life Awards, which spotlight the exceptional work of EMS providers.