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Life-saving equipment pays off

By MARGARET DWIGGINS
Family Editor
Pastor Mike McClurg of the Findlay First Church of the Nazarene is used to souls being saved. But having a man’s life saved at the church last week is nothing short of a miracle, he said.
On March 2, church member Ron Rook was among a group of men and young boys, including Rook’s son, Josiah, 13, who were playing a pick-up game of basketball in the church gym when Rook collapsed and stopped breathing. Quick thinking by two other players, Chad Beach and Chris England, brought Rook back to life as the two men used an automated external defibrillator installed in the gym and administered CPR until paramedics arrived. But there is much more to the story than that.
McClurg said Rook, 46, of Bloomdale, is an active member of the church, serving on its board and chairing its safety committee. Rook insisted on equipping the church with two AEDs a couple of years ago, one in the foyer and one near the gym.
An AED is a portable device used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. The machines monitor heart rhythm and send an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm if an abnormal rhythm is detected.
McClurg said Rook had senior members of the congregation in mind when suggesting that the church buy the equipment, and he took it upon himself to regularly check the batteries and make sure both units were always in working order. He led a safety team and urged church members to become certified in use of the equipment. Those certified have their photos on a wall at the church announcing them as members of the team.
Beach said he and Rook had visited at the morning service March 2, and Rook had nudged him to get his paperwork turned in. Beach had many years of training in the use of AED as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation from a former employer, and only needed to submit paperwork verifying his expertise with the device to become a member of the team.
When the men returned to the church that afternoon to play basketball, Beach said that Rook was joking around with him, England and Josiah. Rook told the group that he’d just checked the batteries on the AED and the unit was ready to go in case anyone had to use it on him.
Everyone just laughed. Rook, an avid bicyclist, played basketball regularly and was in excellent physical shape. Rook’s wife, Nancy, a nurse, said he’d never complained of shortness of breath or any other symptoms of heart disease.
After about 20 minutes of play, Beach said one of the teens in the game yelled for him. Turning, he saw Rook facedown on the floor. Beach said he turned Rook over and checked his airway, which was not obstructed, but Rook was “completely limp.”
Beach asked his son, who was also playing, to call 911, and had someone fetch the AED unit from the wall. He also thought to ask other adults to get Josiah and Rook’s daughter, Rebecca, 12, who was watching the game from a balcony, to another room.
“It looked really bad, I was almost certain he was going to die on the floor,” Beach said. McClurg said the AED unit gives voice commands and instructions for CPR. Beach and England performed CPR for several minutes when the AED signaled a shock was needed. After that, Beach said he began to feel Rook’s heart beating beneath his hand.
“Within the next two minutes or so he started trying to breathe, he was moving, making some noises,” Beach said. Paramedics arrived soon after, by which time Rook had a pulse and a strong heartbeat.
Rook was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital, where Nancy Rook said they were told that her husband’s coronary artery was 100 percent blocked, a condition that doctors call “the widow maker,” as it is too often deadly before it is discovered.
McClurg, who visited with the family in the emergency room, said he was told by the paramedics and Rook’s doctor that there was no question that Beach’s and England’s quick response, and the availability of an AED, saved Rook’s life.
McClurg believes what happened that afternoon is a miracle, entirely orchestrated by God.
“God pulled these things together and put the right people in the right time,” McClurg said. “Even two years ago when Ron got those AEDs, I believe God’s hand was in that.”
McClurg said he spoke with Beach and England later and knows that they will be forever changed.
“I give all the glory to God,” Beach said. “… if his hands weren’t on mine it wouldn’t have turned out like it did.”
Rook had heart bypass surgery March 4 and is at home and doing well, his wife said.
The family, which also includes daughter Olivia, 10, saw the power of prayer at work that day, Nancy said. She hopes Ron’s story will get others thinking and talking. She hopes other churches will have the conversation about equipping their buildings with AEDs and making sure they are maintained. But she also hopes it will stir spiritual conversation, too.
“People need to see God in their life,” she said.
Dwiggins: 419-427-8477 Send an E-mail to Margaret Dwiggins

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