Thursday, June 4, 2009

Red Cross Life-Saving Skills. Bingo!

Group photo of recipients with Steve Modory, American Red Cross - Dallas Area Chapter Chairman of the Board and Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, American Red Cross - Dallas Area Chapter CEO.

Regular Saturday Bingo players gathered at the Plano Senior Recreation Center last July, each with hopes of winning the big jackpot. Sara Deats and Maria Ramirez, both City of Plano employees, showed up for work expecting an ordinary day. However, this wasn't going to be an ordinary day.

During the game, a player's heart stopped beating. Deats and Ramirez joined forces and called 9-1-1 while retrieving an AED (automated external defibrillator). While Deats began administering CPR, Ramirez prepared the AED and administered shocks to the victim. The duo continued their lifesaving skills until EMS arrived. Without a doubt, if Deats and Ramirez had not been on duty that night, and if they had not been trained in an American Red Cross CPR/AED course, the victim would not have survived.

Due to their heroic efforts, President Barack Obama has recognized them with a special medal and a hand-signed Certificate of Merit, the first issued under his new administration. The Certificate of Merit is the highest award given by the American Red Cross to someone who saves a life because of the skills they learned in a Red Cross Health & Safety Course. Deats and Ramirez were presented with their medals and their hand-signed Certificates of Merit at a special ceremony on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at the Dallas Area Chapter of the Red Cross.

For their lifesaving efforts, fellow City of Plano employees Amy Fortenberry and Pamela Perry were also presented with this honor.

Fortenberry's skills were put to the test during a work-related training course when her instructor suddenly dropped face forward into the base of the podium. He wasn’t breathing. Fortenberry and another classmate sprang into action and began administering CPR while others went to locate the AED. Fortenberry continued CPR until the AED arrived and then administered shocks to the victim. She saved her instructor's life. Perry was at work at the City of Plano when she heard someone yelling down the hallway that a man with heart problems had gone down in the fitness room. Perry grabbed the on-site AED and raced to the area. She began CPR until a nurse arrived. The nurse continued CPR while Perry prepared the AED to administer shocks. Together, they saved the life of their co-worker.

“If there were a contest to determine who has the best trained staff in CPR, the City of Plano would come out the winner,” said Kevin Billings, Director of Preparedness, American Red Cross-Dallas Area Chapter. “To have four employees presented with this presidential award in the same year is amazing. Imagine what would have happened to the victims if the City of Plano didn’t take training their employees seriously.”

The American Red Cross urges at least one person in every family to know how to perform CPR. In honor of National CPR and AED Week, June 1-7, the Dallas Area Chapter is offering 2-for-1 pricing for Adult CPR/AED certification on Friday, June 7, 2009. Course hours are from 8:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or from 1:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Take advantage of the 2-for-1 special pricing and bring a friend for $40 each! To enroll in a course, go to and register online.

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