June 27, 2024

‘You never know when you’re going to use it:’ fencing club members save life using CPR, AED

small group standing, smiling

When a fellow fencer collapsed while walking across the gym floor earlier this spring, these people sprung into action. Their work saved his life.

Interest in fencing from her daughter got Stephanie Wilson into the sport.

After taking her daughter to a fencing class offered through Schoolcraft College’s Personal & Professional Learning, she realized it wasn’t just for young people. So she picked up a foil and took it up. That led to plenty of nights of bouts, including against her own daughter.

It also led the registered nurse to utilize her CPR training when a fellow fencer collapsed earlier this year.

Wilson, along with several other members of the fencing club that met regularly at Schoolcraft College, ended up needing that skill the evening of March 15, 2024. That evening, while in between bouts, fellow fencer Kevin Ede collapsed, losing his heartbeat and going into cardiac arrest.

“When you’re in the field, you need to keep up your CPR training every two years,” she said. ““You never know when you’re going to use it.”

Thanks to the quick action of several members of the club – several with medical backgrounds – Ede survived his incident. He credits the CPR his fellow fencers performed on him, as well as the automated external defibrillator (AED) used on him that was just around the corner.

Because of their actions, four individuals – Wilson, Michael Byrd of Plymouth, Sean Layow of Northville and Patrick Paquette of Livonia – were recently recognized by Schoolcraft College. The recognition included a Citizen Lifesaving Award from the Board of Trustees and a special Chief’s Challenge Coin from Police Chief Mark Engstrom.

Left: The four members who played a major role in saving Kevin Ede’s life pose with their recent commendations along with the Schoolcraft College Board of Trustees and Dr. Glenn Cerny, President of the College.
Right: Schoolcraft College Chief of Police Mark Engstrom presents Patrick Paquette with a Chief’s Challenge Coin. Paquette, along with three others, received the award for aiding in saving a life earlier this spring on campus.

“We couldn’t be prouder of all those who helped save this man’s life that night in the gym,” said Dr. Glenn Cerny, president of Schoolcraft College. “Their efforts and quick actions made a difference, and we’re honored to recognize them for their efforts.”

After wrapping up a fencing bout, Ede was walking across the gym floor in the Physical Education Building when he collapsed. His fellow fencers, not knowing what had happened to him, began to assess the situation and realized he was not breathing.

“I assessed the situation. He looked like he was having seizures,” said Byrd, a member of the fencing club who also works as an emergency nurse at an area hospital. “Then I checked him for a pulse and he had a pulse, but then lost it.”

Noticing this, Byrd, Wilson and Layow assisted in providing CPR to Ede. Paquette quickly ran out of the gym and into the hallway to fetch the AED device, which was located just down the hallway from the gym. The device was prepped and Ede shocked, which eventually led to him regaining his pulse.

All these steps lined up perfectly to resuscitate Ede, saving his life. From the time he collapsed to being revived, a total of 3.5 minutes elapsed.

For Wilson, this felt much, much longer.

“Honestly, in real time, it felt like it was 15-20 minutes,” she said. “It’s definitely a sense of relief for all of us.”

Knowing where the AED was located was crucial to Ede’s survival. Buildings all across Schoolcraft College’s campus have AEDs located inside them.

Because of its close proximity, the rate of success of saving Ede’s life increased, Byrd said.

“The longer we have to do CPR and the longer we have to do that first shock makes all the difference in getting him back,” Byrd said. “Every minute, every couple of seconds that he does not have that hooked up means less survivability.”

Engstrom said he believes organizations of all kinds should keep one on hand nearby to use when cardiac emergencies happen.

“This event is the perfect example of how important AED devices across campus are. Without this device, we may have had a different result,” Engstrom said. “This event just shows why having an AED device readily available is crucial. We encourage all organizations thinking about purchasing an AED to highly consider it. You could save someone’s life.”

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