Lawnmowers: A resuscitation standard anybody can use



Thom Dick | From the June 2008 Issue | Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Matthew Cupp is a quiet, unassuming guy who doesn't make a lot of noise. When he received a surprise award in March for initiating CPR on a popular 52-year-old coworker, he looked like he was going to cry. The coworker, Luis Hernandez, just stood there and laughed, along with the rest of the staff at the Kohl's department store where they worked.

Obviously, Hernandez survived. He had reported for work on the morning of Feb. 16 at the Brighton,Colo., store and told Cupp he was having chest pain. But he blew it off as indigestion until about 3 p.m., when he went into V-fib. He had left a message on his wife's voice mail that asked her to "Pick up, Babe," and then to call him back. Those might have been his last words to her had Cupp not intervened.

Hernandez is what Brighton's Platte Valley Ambulance Service calls a "lawnmower"ƒ a patient whose cardiac arrest triggers a response both prompt and effective enough to enable him to go home and mow his lawn. That's what they call their award, tooƒthe Lawnmower Award. Similar souvenir awards were given to the paramedic crew, the engine company and a police officer who arrived shortly after the medics and relieved Cupp.

Cupp, a four-year Navy veteran, was doing CPR effectively enough when the medics arrived that instead of politely taking over, paramedic Shane Savell asked him to lower his hand position a little and continue. He did that untilBrighton police officer Christian DeLien arrived and relieved him.

Spend enough time in this business, and you understand the significance of an award like thisƒand the meaning of its name. We see the return of people's vital signs often enough. But it isn't often that somebody goes home and resumes their normal life.

And you know, Life-Saver, when you compare the importance of mowing your lawn to some of your other day-to-day priorities, your lawn is pretty low on that list. Especially if you weren't feeling well, or both halves of your heart and all three parts of your brain weren't functioning properly.

If somebody's mowing their lawn, they're doin' OK.

Hernandez' wife, Sylvia, had a big hug for Cupp, and a firm sense that there was "an angel" with her husband on that day and throughout his next 10 days in the hospital. Hernandez doesn't remember the day of his heart attack, or the following day. But he did thank 20-year EMT Steve Rollert for his sore chest.

Kohl's Store Manager Diane Hornby gathered store employees around Cupp and Hernandez for the presentation. She invited Hernandez' family members, police and firefighters along with the medic crew. Kohl's provided plenty of food and refreshments, and the local paper covered the event with a nice-sized story and photos. Best of all, the only hero-talk anybody heard was about Cupp. (Of course, he wasn't having any of it.)

Most of us struggle for every dollar in our budgets. The cost of engraved plaques for this award would have exceeded $500. But Office Depot sells wood-grained ones that come with clear letter-sized plastic overlays and nice corner escutcheons for about $16 apiece. If you have access to MS PowerPoint or MS Publisher, some clip art, parchment stationary and a little imagination, you can make your own plaques that say whatever you want them to and look like keepers.

PlatteValleyis a nonprofit, hospital-based 9-1-1 agency that teaches community CPR every month, provides police and firefighters with free AEDs and other medical equipment, and trains with firefighters six times a month. Medics and firefighters share the same schedule, and all three agencies share a strong sense of respect, camaraderie andƒwho'd have thunk itƒfun.

This was fun.

Thom Dick has been involved in EMS for 36 years, 23 of them as a full-time EMT and paramedic inSan DiegoCounty. He's currently the quality care coordinator for Platte Valley Ambulance, a hospital-based 9-1-1 system inBrighton, Colo. Contact him


Crews who made this happen were, fromPlatteValley: Shane Savell, NREMT-P, and Steve Rollert, NREMT-B; from the Greater Brighton Fire Protection District: Lt. Scott Griffith, NREMT-B, Mike Nekvasil, NREMT-B, and Clint Mader, EMT-B; and from the Brighton Police Department: Christian DeLien.

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Patient Care, Cardiac and Circulation, Training, Jems Tricks of the Trade

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Thom Dick

has been involved in EMS for 43 years, 23 of them as a full-time EMT and paramedic in San Diego County. He's currently the quality care coordinator for Platte Valley Ambulance, a hospital-based 9-1-1 system in Brighton, Colo. Contact him at


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