by Heidi Ridgeway, Great Falls, Montana
We often tell our donors that their support helps save lives, and here’s a local story to prove it. In this first-person account by Red Cross volunteer Heidi Ridgway, she recounts how she and her sons saved her brother Mike’s life thanks to the skills she acquired in a Red Cross First Aid & CPR class and her clearheaded sons.
“In the early morning of August 24, 2013, my brother Mike and my two boys were working out back on my brother’s truck. My daughter Kira and I were still in bed, fast asleep. At 8:20 AM, I was woken out of a deep sleep by my 14 year old son, Nathan, screaming "MOM, UNCLE MIKE GOT RUN OVER BY HIS TRUCK!"
I jumped out of bed, ran down the stairs, through the house, and into the back yard, screaming. The truck, a stick shift, had popped into gear and had jerked forward when it was turned on, first knocking the basketball hoop over and then running over my brother who had tripped and fallen. My 15 year old son, Ryan, called 911 immediately.
My brother was lying under his truck, pinned to the ground. I checked whether he was breathing, but he wasn't. Still screaming, I ran across the alley to get help from a neighbor, but he did not answer his door. I saw another neighbor across the street and I yelled "IS ANYONE WITH YOU? I NEED HELP. MY BROTHER GOT CRUSHED BY HIS TRUCK". I then ran back to my brother.
A split second later, two neighbors ran over with a 2 ton jack. They jacked up the truck and one of the neighbors pulled Mike out by his feet, then started to roll him over. I quickly shouted at him to wait. Holding my brother’s neck and shoulders in alignment, as I had learned to do in class, we slowly rolled him over in one slow motion, keeping his spine straight.
I dropped to my knees and started doing chest compressions. After only four compressions, Mike’s heart started beating again and he started breathing. I looked up to see three police officers, an ambulance and a fire truck on scene. They immediately rushed my brother to the hospital. He was badly injured but he was alive.
Mike was in the ICU for a total of five days. He spent three days in a medically-induced coma, to keep him from pulling out his breathing tube and to help him heal a bit faster. He had injured his left hand by nearly severing a few nerves in his neck. He also had fractured several vertebrae, and had broken his sternum and several ribs. After he was discharged from the ICU, Mike was transferred to a regular hospital room, and then to a rehab unit. He finally came home on September 5, 2013.
Mike has lost partial use of his left hand and he still has a lot of back pain due to all the fractures, but he is doing well. He has some remaining emotional issues from the accident—we all do—but everyone is getting better. Mike does not remember the accident and he may never get that back, but he is beginning to remember things that happened in the weeks prior to the accident. He recently started working again and is moving on with his life.
I, too, don't remember much more than what my sons told me after the accident. But I am so proud of my two boys! Thanks to their quick thinking and the knowledge I acquired from my Red Cross class, their uncle and my brother is here today. Mike still has a long recovery ahead, but he is making very good progress.”
Stories such as this would not be possible without the financial support of people like you who make our lifesaving classes possible.