GODFREY — Ginger Woodman faced the unthinkable in December of 2012 when her husband Jess climbed up the stairs from the basement for a Christmas family gathering and suddenly became very ill.
"He hadn't been feeling very good for a couple of days so he had been taking it easy," Ginger said. "I was so scared, I actually forgot how to call 911 for help."
As Jess Woodman rested over several days to recover from a "bug," he developed a blood clot in his leg that traveled to his heart. Not aware of the dangerous circumstance they were in, the Woodmans welcomed the quick help of the Godfrey Fire Protection District and firefighter/paramedic Doug Dankenbring and firefighter/EMT Eddie Knezevich for assistance.
"It had been a nice day outside when we got the call to respond to the Woodman residence," Knezevich said. "We responded like we normally do for any other chest pain call."
"We went through our basic life support measures," Dankenbring added. "As a basic life support unit, we got oxygen going for Mr. Woodman and gave him an aspirin tablet. We waited with him for the ambulance to arrive to transport him to Alton Memorial, but plans quickly changed."
As Dankenbring and Knezevich continued to listen to the radio during Woodman's transport to the hospital, they heard signs that his condition was rapidly declining and they turned around to offer assistance to the ambulance personnel. Ginger saw Knezevich climb in the back of the ambulance on the side of the road and begin to give manual Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) through the rear ambulance windows as she followed behind.
"I could see that they were giving Jess CPR," Ginger Woodman said. "I also noticed we were not going to Alton Memorial. The ER doctor at St. Anthony's did a great job and knew exactly what was going on. He recognized the symptoms of a blood clot in the heart and Jess was transported to DePaul in St. Louis in a helicopter."
Woodman spent a week in the care of the DePaul hospital staff before returning home and has since been searching for a way to repay the two men who saved his life.
"I read in an AdVantage News article about a month ago that (GFPD) had a few new devices to help improve heart attack survival through CPR," Ginger said. "I read that the chief hoped to have a few more devices to have in different trucks and I knew right away that we needed to donate one. I called the ZOLL Company and found their representative right away."
As the medical professional compresses with chest with the ZOLL ResQCPR System, suction pulls the chest back into a normal position, helping the heart refill with blood to be pushed throughout the body with the next compression. This procedure pushes more oxygenated blood through the body and to the brain than what manual CPR can deliver. This can improve chances by 49 percent.
"It's amazing that the Woodmans chose to donate this ResQCPR System," Kambarian said. "It is always the ultimate goal to see a patient come back and see us after surviving an ordeal like he did. To see him and his wife stand here today and present a device that will help save the life of countless others is the greatest thank you I've seen in my career."
The couple, who own Woodman Collision, located at 4515 N Alby in Godfrey, hope their donation will inspire more individuals or business owners to consider making a donation.
"You never know when it's going to be your life these first responders save," Ginger said. "I have my husband thanks to these men. Jess is doing well. It took him less time to heal from the heart attack than it did the knee surgery he had six months later."
The district now has four devices in its arsenal and would like to obtain two more. Any individuals or businesses interested in making a donation can contact Kambarian at Station One, 6011 Godfrey Road, or (618) 466-0131,or contact ZOLL representative Barbara Rizzo at (513) 816-4300.