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College of Education Celebrates CPR Success Story

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by Brad Duncan

photo of Vicki Sageser
Vicki Sageser

The vacation didn’t play out how it was supposed to, but thanks to a “being in the right place at the right time” situation, John “Toby” Tyler is still alive.

While visiting North Carolina in late July 2009, College of Education alumna and part-time instructor Vicki Sageser and her husband were staying across the hall in the hotel where Tyler and his wife also were staying. One morning Tyler suffered cardiac arrest and fortunately Sageser, who had been certified in first aid and CPR for more than 30 years and is now a certified Red Cross Instructor, was there to help. Thanks to her quick reaction, Tyler survived.

As part of his efforts to give back, Tyler will be on the UK campus to share his experience and the emphasis of the importance in learning and receiving certification in CPR. His talk, “CPR Certification Celebration: A Survivor Tells His Story,” will be held on Monday, Dec. 5, from noon to 1 p.m. in the W.T. Young Library Auditorium. Sageser, who teaches CPR and first aid at UK, also will be on hand to discuss her role.

“I have been trained in first aid and CPR for a long time,” Sageser said, “but I had never been faced with a real-life opportunity to perform it. In those instances, we do it no matter what. He was in trouble and I just felt the need to react. Previously, I hadn’t had the ability to instruct CPR from a firsthand experience to the 200 students I teach each year, but now I can.”

Ultimately, Tyler’s life was dependent upon the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to actually restart his heart. Though Sageser was trained in using an AED as well, the hotel in which they were staying did not have one available. Sageser continued to perform CPR by herself for more than 15 minutes until paramedics arrived. Due to her persistence, circulation was maintained and Tyler experienced no adverse effects as a result of his cardiac arrest.

The situation emphasized to Sageser and the Tylers how important CPR and AEDs can be during cardiac emergencies. As a result, Sageser and College of Education Professor Jody Clasey are working to raise funds to install AEDs in each of the College’s two north campus buildings, Dickey Hall and Taylor Education Building. Because of the nature of research and other training occurring in the Seaton Center, home to the College’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, AEDs already are installed there. Now, more than ever, Sageser and Clasey feel it is important to have AED access for all of the College’s faculty, staff, students and visitors should a cardiac emergency occur.

“We were fortunate with Toby,” Sageser said. “If we had access to an AED before paramedics arrived, I might have been able to resuscitate him sooner. Luckily, the CPR accomplished what it was designed for.”