Woman saves life at Vail Valley jet center
April 10, 2009
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” When Vail Valley Jet Center employee Andrea Feldman completed a cardiopulmonary resuscitation class in Edwards a couple of years ago, she walked out of the building hoping she would never have to put her new skills to the test.
But earlier this month, she did ” and successfully. As a result a 37-year-old employee from Dollar Rent a Car is still alive.
On April 3, Feldman and another employee from the Vail Valley Jet Center were talking with the Dollar employee when the man slumped over and hit the floor.
“I’d never seen what a heart attack looks like, but I could see he was struggling for breath,” said Feldman. “You just really don’t have a moment to think.”
She began administering CPR immediately and continued, solo, for six minutes. That’s an eternity in CPR time.
“For a professional, six minutes goes by very quickly but for someone who is doing it for the first time or watching it happen, time really goes slowly,” said Chief Chris Montera of the Western Eagle County Ambulance District. “It would probably feel like six minutes was 20 minutes or 30 minutes.”
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While she was performing CPR, Feldman’s co-workers called 911 from a cell phone. They learned a valuable lesson that day ” its better to make emergency phone calls from a land line so that responding agencies can get location information. Emergency crews initially responded to the commercial terminal before jet center workers directed them to the correct locale.
Ultimately a sheriff’s deputy was able to take over CPR from Feldman and ambulance crews were close behind.
“It was kind of a traumatic, surreal experience,” said Feldman. “All I could think about was giving him a fighting chance.”
She did that and more, according to Montera. “She truly saved someone’s life. That is the key to cardiac arrest, someone there performing CPR quickly before the ambulance or the fire department arrives,” he said.
Ironically, that’s a lesson Feldman knows well. Her father died from a massive heart attack.
After the ambulance left that day, Feldman was fraught with concerns that she hadn’t done something correctly. When she learned that the patient arrived at the hospital with a strong blood pressure, she felt some relief. The man is now listed in stable condition at University Hospital.
Recalling the incident is an emotional experience for Feldman, but she is very grateful she had the training to help that day.
“It would have been terrible to just stand by and not be able to do anything,” Feldman said.
And, she stressed, the day’s good outcome was due in large part to a whole team of people. “I was the hand-on person, but there were so many people here helping,” she said.
But despite Feldman’s self-effacing manner, Vail Valley Jet Center Customer Service Manager Susan Lucas calls her a true hero.
“I believe he wouldn’t have made it if Andrea hadn’t been there to perform CPR,” said Lucas. “She didn’t even hesitate. She just jumped right in there. What she did was huge.”
Lucas showed up to work the next day with a cake for Feldman.
“She’s our hero,” Lucas said.