Prospect Heights Fire Chief Donald Gould Jr. made a surprise visit to the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook recently to meet with one of its managers, Robert Smith, to commend him for his role in saving a man's life.
"We would like to express our sincere thank you for your assistance and quick action of providing emergency CPR care and using the AED before the arrival of the fire district, which allowed for a positive outcome for the patient," Gould said in a commendation letter to Smith and the hotel's general manager, Holly Allgauer. "Your quick action shows how important CPR training and proper action by people trained to provide basic life support skills is."
Smith's heroic actions took place last month during a conference involving more than 1,000 people from Clarke Security.
Sitting in the front in one of the conference rooms during a morning session was 84-year old Craig Dorsey, an automotive locksmith from south suburban Markham. He collapsed, sending instructors running to the front desk for help.
Fortunately for them -- and for Dorsey -- Smith was there and he sprung into action.
Smith has worked for more than 20 years for Hilton, including six years at its Hilton O'Hare, managing its athletic club. While there, he became certified as an instructor on AEDs, or automated external defibrillators.
At the Hilton in Northbrook, officials keep an AED at the front desk and most managers are trained to use it. Smith has trained many employees in the use of the device, but he never had used it on a live patient until that day.
"When we found him, he was unresponsive," Smith said. "He had no vital signs whatsoever."
Smith worked with three co-workers, who already had begun to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation compressions, and then began to open his shirt to allow Smith to administer the shock.
"When you're in that kind of situation, it's almost like an out-of-body experience. You're trained to do it a certain way, and you just do it," Smith says. "But I have to credit my co-workers. We all worked together, it was pretty intense."
One shock to Dorsey, and he again had a pulse. Within minutes, firefighters and paramedics from Prospect Heights arrived and they took over advanced life support measures.
They rushed him to Glenbrook Hospital, Glenview, where Dorsey remained for nearly two weeks while he had a pacemaker and stent inserted. He now is home and resting comfortably.
"I want to thank him," says Dorsey, a father and grandfather. "It was great what he did. It was my luck that he was there."
Prospect Heights firefighters intend to feature Smith on the cover of their next community newsletter. Not only do they want to celebrate his heroism, they also want more groups to have AEDs on site -- and have people trained to use them.
Gould points to these statistics: In cities where defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 30 percent to 45 percent.
"The use of AEDs," Gould adds, "literally can mean the difference between life and death."