News

Quick action saves a life

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Employees at Edward Jones, an international investment firm with an office in Federal Way, can expect to help a client plan for the future. But Kerry Abington, a fairly new agent with the company, got to give a man one.

Abington called 9-1-1 and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on 78-year-old William Morton Monday after Morton apparently suffered a heart attack while driving in the Marine Hills neighborhood.

Abington administered mouth-to-mouth while a carpenter working at a nearby construction site did chest compressions until an ambulance arrived.

Abington’s presence of mind and quick action probably saved the man’s life, and police and firefighters thanked him for it. So did Morton himself when Abington visited him at St. Frances Hospital.

Abington said doctors aren’t positive Morton had a heart attack, but he’s doing okay now.

“I told him, you look so much better than you did Monday,” Abington said. “It’s really great.”

Abington said he was walking in the Marine Hills neighborhood to meet clients in the early afternoon when he noticed an older man driving very slowly toward the shoulder of the road.

When he turned to head back, Abington said the car had stopped and the driver was slumped over, half out of the vehicle.

Abington said he ran to the nearest house and told a woman inside to call 9-1-1. Then he ran to the car, pulled the man out and started CPR.

Before long, some construction workers at a nearby worksite came over to help. One of the workers said he’d just finished a CPR class.

“I heard him say, ‘Look, I had CPR a month ago. I think you need to push harder.’ So I said, ‘You jump in,’” Abington said. “I think if he hadn’t done that, the fellow might have died.”

Morton was taken to St. Francis, where he is recovering.

Most Red Cross stations and fire departments offer CPR classes. For $15, participants can get certification, required in some fields, after taking a CPR test. But for $5, those interested in simply knowing CPR but who don’t need certification can take a class.

Monica Colby, a spokeswoman for the Federal Way Fire Department, said certification should be renewed every two years so people’s skills stay fresh.

Still, in a pinch, any CPR is better than none.

“Even if you can’t remember how to do it perfectly right, it’s always better to do something,” Colby said. “As long as you do something, you increase their chances of living.”

Sometimes the victim gets hurt during CPR — chests get bruised and cartilage breaks — but the national Good Samaritan Act covers anyone who renders aid from later lawsuits as long as he or she was trying to save the person’s life.

“We prefer that you try,” Colby said.

Once a person’s heart stops, they have between four and six minutes before the brain becomes damaged from lack of oxygen. But it could take the fire department that long to arrive.

That’s where normal people using CPR, the kind learned in health classes and at local fire departments, come in.

“It really is vital for the person who has cardiac arrest,” Colby said. “The longer they go without blood pumping through the body, their brain starts to die.”

Once emergency medical personnel arrive and use a defibrillator to jump-start the victim’s heart, the victim has a better chance of surviving if someone kept their heart moving while the fire department was en route, Colby said.

Abington called Monday’s CPR salvation a team effort.

The woman whose door he knocked on ran outside with her cordless phone — and a 9-1-1 dispatcher on the other end.

“Between the dispatcher, myself and the gentleman on the construction crew, everything worked,” Abington said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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