Driver tech turns hero

Monday, April 30, 2007

BOARDMAN, Ohio - Don Wheatley's emergency medical training paid off in a big way last October. One week after he passed his CPR re-certification training, the driver technician for Seeley Medical saved a man from choking on a hot dog.
The local chapter of the American Red Cross in March honored Wheatley as a hero.
Seeley requires that all its drivers become certified as emergency medical technicians so they can be prepared for emergencies in the patient's home--or anywhere else.
The training served Wheatley well last October when he walked into a Girard, Ohio, restaurant. Clad in his Seeley Medical shirt, a patron asked him if he worked for a medical company. Another customer was choking and needed help, he told Wheatley.
"He'd already turned blue, he wasn't moving, he wasn't breathing," said Wheatley. "There were people standing around, but nobody really wanted to do anything."
Wheatley got the man up off the floor and performed the Heimlich maneuver. The first few tries didn't work so Wheatley repositioned his hands lower and tried again.
"I did it two more times and it popped out," he said. "He took a big gasp of breath. We set him on a bench and tilted his head back so he could breathe easier."
Mike Sass, human resources manager for Seeley, said the emergency medical training lets referral sources know the company takes patient care seriously.
"It prepares the drivers for any incidents that may happen in the patient's home," said Sass. "It lets physicians know we're serious about helping take care of their patients because we have a trained, competent staff."
The company pays for the training, which takes about six months. Employees must attend classes on their own time, often after working a full day.
"We have people who are motivated to learn and continually learn and apply those skills," said Sass.
Wheatley's "patient"--an elderly man--quickly regained his color and opened his eyes. By that time, Wheatley could hear the distant siren of the ambulance--to his relief.
"It was pretty scary," said Wheatley, who said he didn't have time to stop and think. "Hey, if we don't do anything, we'll never know."