Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Staff members save Scioto custodian's life after heart attack

(Originally published in ThisWeek News)

Tuesday December 23, 2014 9:30 AM
From left to right: Heidi Wess, Chris Martin and Brian Nimmo 

Heidi Wess, the school nurse at Dublin Scioto High School, was preparing for another normal Tuesday morning Nov. 25.

Suddenly, on her two-way radio she heard the words "emergency in the cafeteria."

She and Brian Nimmo, the school resource officer, rushed to the cafeteria.

Chris Martin, the head custodian at the school, was on the floor and moaning.

Nimmo ushered students out of the cafeteria.


"Does your chest hurt?" Wess asked him. No answer.

Scott Mollette, a custodian, told Wess that Martin said his chest hurt before he fell to the floor.

Wess told her clinic aide, Cindy Anson, to go get the automated external defibrillator.

Nimmo called for paramedics and relayed information to the emergency radio dispatchers.

Martin gasped for air and then stopped breathing.

Wess took a deep breath, applied the AED pads and delivered the shock to Martin.

Still nothing. Wess shocked him again.

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The cafeteria workers huddled together holding each others hands.

Nimmo performed chest compressions on Martin.

Wess noticed Martin's breathing was slow and shallow.

She knew she needed to increase his oxygen intake.

Wess performed a rescue breathing procedure, in which the rescuer basically is breathing for the person in distress, blowing air into the victim's lungs and helping to prevent brain damage and death.

The medics arrived, shocked Martin a few more times, and took him to the hospital in an emergency vehicle, accompanied by Bob Scott, Scioto's principal.

Wess, whose husband is a firefighter, knew she needed to call Martin's wife, Krista.

"I wanted to be the one," Wess said.

"I knew that if I was in her shoes, I'd want to know right away," she said.

Wess told Martin's wife she saw her husband in distress and that when she was beside him, he quit breathing and did not have a pulse, so she had to initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"I told her he was going to be transported to the hospital and she needed to meet the medics," Wess said.

"I offered to pick her up or give her a ride if she needed.

"I assured her that the medics were with Chris and they would assist him," Wess said.

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A few hours later, Scott called to tell them that Martin was alive.

He had suffered a type of massive heart attack with only a 10-percent survival rate.

Martin spent two days in a medical-induced coma in Riverside Methodist Hospital.

When he awakened, he did not recall what had happened.

A week later, Martin requested to see Nimmo, Wess and Scott.

Wess said he hugged and thanked them.

"I couldn't rest until I made eye contact with him again," Wess said.

"I needed to see for myself that he was okay," she said.

"When we saw him, he and his wife kept thanking me over and over," Wess said.

Nimmo said Martin was a little hoarse but that he was "coming back strong and his energy was recovering."

Martin went to Dodd Hall Inpatient Rehabilitation and went home Dec. 12. He is continuing to do outpatient rehabilitation.

At the school board meeting Dec. 8, Nimmo and Wess were recognized for their exemplary service in a medical emergency.

Martin attended Scioto's staff breakfast Dec. 19 and said it was good to see everyone.

"I want to give a very big thank you to my extended Dublin family for all their prayers and support," Martin.

"I would like to give a special thank you to Brian Nimmo, Scott Mollette, Cindy Anson, Heidi Wess, and the EMTs. They saved my life."

Martin said he is looking forward to getting back into the normal routine of things when he returns to work probably in February.

Wess said Martin has lost 30 pounds and "looked fantastic."

Wess described how after the experience, she will always have a connection with Martin and his wife.

"It's like I've gained another family member," she said.

Nimmo agreed his background in the U. S. Coast Guard prepared him for the situation.

"I'm just so blessed that the CPR worked," he said.

From page A5 12/25 edition
Deb's Details:
This was such a wonderful article to write because it felt like something straight out of a movie. With such an amazing story, I didn't think it felt right to give it the traditional just-the-facts approach. I used my creative writing skills to emphasize the drama of the situation by putting the reader in real-time with Wess and Nimmo. Everything is still accurate in the article, I just chose a different story telling approach. It was a risk but I think it paid off to write the article like that. I'm so thankful Chris is alive and doing well.