Red Cross Honors Two for Saving Man's Life
Two individuals who work in Southern Pines received the highest civilian honor last week from the American Red Cross for saving the life of a co-worker earlier this year.
Dwight Dennis and Sandra Jacobs, both of Rockingham, received the Presidential Certificate of Merit Thursday during a brief presentation at the Moore County chapter of the American Red Cross office in Southern Pines. The honor is issued to individuals who have saved or sustained life as a direct result of American Red Cross training in health and safety programs.
On Jan. 23, Dennis and Jacobs, who work at Pace International in Southern Pines, saved the life of co-worker and Aberdeen resident Michael Baker by administering CPR and using an automated external defibrillator on him after he suffered a massive heart attack while at work.
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and is able to treat them by using an electrical shock to stimulate the heart back to a normal rhythm.
Baker, who now has a pacemaker to keep his heart rhythm regular, attended the presentation. He remains an advocate of businesses getting AEDs and training their staff how to use the device and how to administer CPR properly.
“It’s a lifesaver,” Baker said. “But a lot of companies look at it as something that costs too much rather than something that can save a life.”
Baker, who now works in Rockingham, has called Dennis and Jacobs his “guardian angels.”
For their part, Jacobs and Dennis modestly deflect the credit for their actions, saying saving Baker’s life was a team effort, with everyone playing a key role in the positive outcome.
Jacobs said Thursday that the incident has given her confidence in herself to act during lifesaving moments.
“There was that little doubt in the back of my mind, but this let me know that I can do it,” she said.
Dennis said it has boosted the confidence of Pace’s employees too.
“Some of our employees said they feel better knowing that somebody can do this,” Dennis said. “It is so simple and it can save lives.”
The certificate of merit is signed by President Obama.
“We present this as often as we can find somebody who has saved a life,” said Jeanne Mandrell, of the American Red Cross. “We like to recognize them because it takes not only the knowledge of what to do, but also the courage to act.”
The award was first presented in 1913. The late R.V. Walters of Moore County earned the award in 1980 for saving an individual from drowning.
In February, Moore County Emergency Manager Scot Brooks said there are 336 AEDs at businesses, schools, police and fire stations, and other locations throughout the county.
Many of those devices have been made possible through Heart Safe Moore County, a countywide program that promotes access to AEDs.
Baker is not the only Moore County resident who has been saved through the use of an AED. In 2006, Roger Watson was nearing the end of a workout at FirstHealth’s Center for Health and Fitness in Pinehurst when he grew dizzy and passed out.
Center employees revived him using CPR and an AED.
Experts say a person who has sudden cardiac arrest and receives only CPR has a 7 percent chance of survival if emergency responders arrive in an average time of eight minutes. But that can increase to nearly 80 percent if the person has a shockable heart rhythm and an AED is used within four minutes of the attack.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing almost 400,000 people per year, according to Heart Safe Moore County.
For more about the Red Cross, go to www.redcross. org. To learn more about HeartSafe Moore County, call (910) 947-6500, or visit heartsafemoore. org.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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