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Retired Health Teacher Uses CPR to Save Family Member

Retired health teacher Rodney Leadley (left) used his CPR training to help save the life of his  brother-in-law, Patrick McKenney (at right).

Retired health teacher Rodney Leadley (left) used his CPR training to help save the life of his brother-in-law, Patrick McKenney (at right).

He lived CPR his whole life. It pays off.

Wisconsin resident Rod Leadley has taught thousands of students CPR as a health instructor at Edison Junior High and Preble High School in Green Bay. Little did he know he’d be called on to perform CPR to save the life of someone very close to him.

Now retired, Leadley and his brother-in-law, Patrick McKenney, volunteered for the High School City Cross Country Meet.

During the coaches and officials meeting, Leadley noticed a commotion and a gentleman lying on the ground. As he approached, his knowledge from years of teaching Red Cross CPR & AED skills ran through his veins. Leadley remained calm. 9-1-1 was called. He checked for signs of breathing and a pulse. Finding none, he knew he needed to begin CPR. He clasped his hands, pushed on the chest, his hands, arms and mind counting in a rhythmic pace.

When his eyes turned to the man’s face, he realized he was about to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to his brother-in-law Patrick. “It about stopped Rod in his tracks as he didn’t want Patrick to die right there, yet he knew the statistics,” recalls his wife Kathleen, who is also McKenney’s sister. Only 8% of patients with cardiac incidences outside a hospital survive.

In the meantime, an athletic trainer with an AED drove his four-wheeler across the park. The pads were secured on McKenney’s chest and a shock given, then another. Each time, they followed the instructions of the portable life-saving device. Then more chest compressions were given until the ambulance arrived.

While McKenney was being loaded into the ambulance, Leadley called his wife, reporting McKenney had gone into cardiac arrest. They both knew the chances of survival would be slim. They drove to St. Mary’s Hospital. McKenney was swiftly taken into the cardiac unit. It felt like he was in surgery for hours. Doctors detected 100 percent blockage in multiple arteries, stents were inserted and finally McKenney was rolled into the recovery room.

McKenney was near death mid-week, but by Saturday he was watching the Wisconsin Badgers football game on television with Leadley. On Sunday, he was watching the Green Bay Packers in his own home surrounded by family including Leadley, Kathleen, wife Patty, daughters and grandkids.

The Leadley’s story began in 1972 when they were both hired to teach health education. “He was the health instructor at Edison Junior High & Preble High School. When you multiply the 150 kids x 2 semesters x 35 years of service, this means we have taught thousands of kids how to save lives. Some have even reported doing so,” Kathleen shared. “He lived CPR his whole life. It pays off.”

Today, both are retired and have turned their focus to family, staying active, volunteering and a renewed call-to-action; to fund the procurement of AED machines and funding for training. “If a trained person wasn’t there and if the Bellin athletic trainer didn’t have easy access to a defibrillator, Patrick could have easily been a statistic,” Kathleen concludes. For both of them, the reasons run deep. They simply save lives.

WHAT YOU CAN DO So what can you do to be ready if an emergency occurs? Learn about Red Cross health and safety training here. You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.