5 Commended for Saving Lives

SEBRING – Five Highlands County women were honored Tuesday for saving two lives in separate incidents.

On May 15, while attending class at the South Florida State College, Wendy Roberts, Anne Marie Cornine, and Jenifer Bidlack “went above and beyond the call of duty,” said County Administrator June Fisher.

“When they were made aware of a medical emergency in the cafeteria, they actually outran Steve Ashworth’s golf cart from quite a distance away to get to the cafeteria. Upon arriving, they immediately took over,” Fisher told the Highlands County Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, “and began administering CPR.” Steve Ashworth is chairman of SFSC’s EMS and Fire Science programs.

“The three students continued until the EMS arrived,” Fisher said, “and were able to continue to administer CPR.”

The three were not on duty, Fisher said. “Their response was a product of the passion and dedication they have to serve their community, and for that, we would like to recognize them.”

Sherrie Dent and Gail Escobar are not trained to save lives, so they also went above and beyond the call of duty, Fisher said.

“On May 31, 2017, a patron walked into the Children Advocacy Center already choking on a nut,” Fisher said.

Both women were in the front office and watched as a paramedic stopped on the porch. He was coughing, and they wondered if he was sick.

Then he came into the lobby, and it became apparent that he was choking. Gail ran to interior offices to get law enforcement officers, who are trained in first aid.

“Sherrie walked around the desk and immediately began to perform the Heimlich maneuver,” Fisher said.

In 1974, Dr. Henry Heimlich described abdominal thrusts as a first aid procedure used to unblock upper airway obstructions. A rescuer stands behind a patient, clasps hands, and exerts pressure on the lower diaphragm to compress the lungs and exert pressure to expel an object lodged high in the trachea.

The man was bigger than she was, Dent said, so he bent over to help. Dent said she learned the maneuver years ago.

“The patron, who is certified as an instructor in CPR and emergency response, said that Sherrie performed the maneuver perfectly, waiting for him to get what air he could and eventually dislodged the blockage,” Fisher said.

“He said initially, he was not getting any air at all and would have died,” Fisher said. But Dent was successful, and a large piece of walnut popped out.

“For their prompt response and going above and beyond the call of duty, we would like to recognize Sherrie and Gail,” Fisher said. They were photographed and the five commissioners shook their hands.

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