LANCASTER — A community program dedicated to saving lives from cardiac arrest through education, training and improving access to lifesaving devices had two big events in the same number of weeks.
Community Heart Watch, a collaborative effort by emergency medical services, businesses, schools and medical providers in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties posthumously awarded Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Donald "Andy" Ward for his efforts to save a driver suffering from cardiac arrest and the group unveiled a new mobile medical health training unit for use throughout the area.
In June 2021, Trooper Ward was driving in the area of Ohio 37 near Rising Park when he observed a car veering toward the center of the road. Ward kept the vehicle from driving into an embankment, and called for emergency medical personnel.
Once Ward noticed the driver appeared to be experiencing cardiac arrest, he acted quickly and removed the driver from the car. Three individuals with medical experience — Portsmouth medics Olivia Crawford and Charles Smyers, and Fairfield Medical Center nurse Erica McDaniels — rushed to Ward’s aid and helped perform CPR on the driver until medics arrived on the scene. The driver was transported to Fairfield Medical Center and was later discharged.
Less than three months after his heroic act, Ward passed away. His wife, Brenda, and his children, Megan and Andrew, accepted the Great Save Award on his behalf.
"Andy had been a trooper for 24 years, he realized he needed to be in the action, and helping that driver changed him. After seeing the driver almost die in front of him, then come back and recover, Andy really wondered how all the pieces came together to save him," Brenda said. "He had the same reaction when the driver called the post two days later to thank him."
An automated external defibrillator was also installed at Lancaster High School's Fulton Field in Ward's honor. Brenda said she was excited when they had the opportunity to install the AED in her husband's honor, especially if it meant saving more lives even after Ward's death.
"We spent eight years cheering for the kids at that track, and now they'll have another AED to help people. The ceremony last Monday was a great send off for Andy, especially because people hadn't had the chance to say goodbye at his funeral," she said. "A lot of people came out because he was a great guy to be around, and we are proud of who he was and what he means to everyone."
Mobile Trailer offers greater heart health knowledge, training
Community Heart Watch unveiled its new CPR and AED mobile training unit April 28, which will serve communities throughout Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties.
The trailer was fully funded by donations from Fairfield Federal; Park National Bank; Friendly Bremen Banking Center; Stebelton Snider; the Rotary Club of Lancaster; Fairfield Medical Center; and several individual contributor.
The 14-foot training unit is equipped with CPR manikins and AED training devices. The mobile unit will travel to community events for hands-on training, and has already been booked for many events this summer.
Matt Wideman, executive vice president of Fairfield Federal Savings and Loan and the Business Champion of Community Heart Watch, said the unit will be "an invaluable asset to the community for years to come."
"We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and their recognition of the importance of making our community more heart safe," Wideman said.
FMC cardiologist John Lazarus, MD, PhD, Clinical Champion of Community Heart Watch, said bystander intervention can double or triple cardiac arrest survival rates.
Unfortunately, less than 15% of the community is trained in CPR and AED use, with even lower rates in rural areas.
“Our innovative new mobile unit will bring training to those in our community who wouldn’t normally seek out training on their own, or who live in rural areas where they do not have access to training,” Dr. Lazarus said.
Greenfield Township Fire Chief Brad Smith, EMS Champion of Community Heart Watch,
said the best outcomes for cardiac arrest, which affects nearly 356,000 Americans each
year, occur when CPR is started and an AED is used within 4-6 minutes of collapse.
“On average, it takes emergency medical services 7-8 minutes to arrive on the scene of an emergency and even longer in more rural areas, so it is critical that community
members who witness a cardiac arrest call 911 immediately, start CPR and locate the
closest AED while waiting for EMS to arrive,” he said.
For more information about Community Heart Watch, visit fmchealth.org or contact community outreach coordinator Teri Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barrett Lawlis is a reporter with the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, part of the USA Today Network. You can share story ideas or comments with him at 740-681-4342 or send an e-mail to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Community Heart Watch focuses on improving local health and safety