PaperTexture - Teen, first responders recognized for cardiac arrest save

Teen, first responders recognized for cardiac arrest save

EASTON — An ordinary July morning turned to one of panic for an Easton family when husband and father Jim Gunshenan was found unresponsive and barely breathing.

His family called 911 for him as he was taking his last breaths, said Matt Watkins, division chief of the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services EMS chief.

But then, Jim’s son, Sean, did something “incredibly brave and unthinkably difficult,” starting CPR on his own father.

The 18-year-old, an Eagle Scout who knew CPR from his training in the Boy Scouts, remembered waking up to the sound of screaming and crying from downstairs. After seeing his dad, he jumped into action, adrenaline fueling him.

Sean continued the lifesaving action as 911 communications specialists dispatched paramedics and sheriff’s deputies to the family’s home. The 911 operators remained on the line, providing instruction, support and encouragement until the first responders arrived, Watkins said.

After several minutes on scene, responders were able to get a pulse back. Jim was then taken to the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton for advanced stabilizing care.

That’s when the rush of adrenaline paused and emotions kicked in.

“There’s no amount of time where you can digest and process what’s happening, I just had to jump in and start (CPR),” Sean said. “It’s hard to process still now, so there wasn’t much time to think.”

Jim, 56, made a full recovery, and was present at the Talbot County Council meeting Tuesday evening, where his son, first responders and nurses were recognized for their efforts in saving his life that morning.

“We’ve been shown time and time again that early CPR saves lives, and I believe that had it not been for Sean’s actions that morning, we would not be here before you this evening,” Watkins said.

Minutes truly matter when it comes to a cardiac arrest. Performing CPR and defibrillation within the first few minutes of a patient’s collapse can significantly increase their chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

In recognition of his heroism and selfless actions, Sean received a certificate of commendation from the county council and a life-saving award from the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services.

For Sean, seeing the team who worked to save his dad at the council meeting was a time to take a step back and be grateful for how things worked out that day.

“It takes a lot of people,” he said.

Additional lifesaving awards were presented to the team of nearly a dozen first responders and medical professionals for their efforts in saving Jim’s life that morning.

Those recognized from the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services include Capt. Ben Diefenderfer, Lt. Dave Hall, paramedic Daniel Lloyd, EMT Alex Jewer, EMT Tony Kapela, 911 communications specialist RJ Jones and 911 communications specialist Josh Willis. Talbot County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Joey Timms and nurses from Shore Medical Center at Easton’s emergency department also received awards.

“It really does take a team to save a life,” Watkins said.

For Jim, hearing Watkins’ retelling of his story Tuesday evening and seeing the faces of the team who saved his life made that July day’s events much more real.

“I feel like I came out of it unscathed, which is pretty miraculous,” he said.

Speaking about Sean, Jim is a proud father.

“I think he’s aware that what he did took a certain amount of courage to jump into the fray, and I think he knows it helped, I think he knows that he was a difference maker,” he said.

“He stepped up when it was not easy to step up, that’s rare — that’s a rare quality in a person,” Jim said of his son’s efforts.

Jim’s wife, Kerry, praised the county’s first responders and the staff at Shore Medical Center, calling them “exceptional.” The 911 operators provided calm help from afar in what was a tense moment, the county’s emergency medical services responded quickly and nurses in the hospital was caring and pleasant, she said.

A mother of five, Kerry recalled thinking that morning about how she would do life alone if the outcome was different. But now, she’s celebrating her husband’s recovery and the people who made it possible.

“You didn’t just save one man that day — you saved our family, and we will have Christmases and celebrations and wonderful memories, all because of you,” she said.

Teen, first responders recognized for cardiac arrest save
  • Categories