Noteisha Womack was packing up to leave after her shift at the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex last summer when her colleague Scott McNichols yelled for her help.
When she walked back into the gym, she found McNichols and another colleague, Thomas Clerkley, with a gym patron who had collapsed while using a treadmill. The man had slid off the treadmill and was unconscious on the floor. Other gym patrons started to gather as Womack, Clerkley and McNichols began to administer CPR.
The trio had all taken a Red Cross lifesaving course, and that training just “kicked in” as they began to help, says Womack, the acting assistant manager of the fitness center at the Landover, Maryland facility.
She had seen patrons get lightheaded while working out before but had never responded to an emergency of this level, she said. It was jarring to see the man unresponsive on the floor, Womack says.
Thanks to her training, she knew to stay calm, act quickly and help keep onlookers at a distance. Womack went and retrieved the facility’s automated external defibrillator (AED), which they used on the patron in addition to CPR. She also spoke with a 911 dispatcher and guided first responders into the building upon arrival.
The patron was hospitalized but survived – thanks to Womack, Clerkley and McNichols’ lifesaving skills – and has made a full recovery. Womack says she is thankful to have colleagues who were trained for this very kind of scenario.
Womack, Clerkley and McNichols are among the six people who were honored with an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award by the Red Cross of the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake region this month.
Also honored was Bladensburg, Maryland police officer Ben Moon, who arrived at the scene of a 911 call in October to find a woman who was unconscious. Moon performed CPR on the woman until paramedics arrived.
“We had a [CPR] refresher class just the week before,” Moon recalls, “so the timing was great to use my Red Cross skills.”
Moon and Womack urge people to seek CPR training because emergencies can happen at any time. Womack notes that the gym patron who collapsed was a fitness trainer and in good shape. “It can happen to anyone,” she said.
Additionally, DC metro-area EMT Jamie Jill and local nurse, Lindy Prevatt, were honored by executive director for the Red Cross of the National Capital Area Chapter, Courtney Bulger and chapter board chair, Jim Sheaffer in Fairfax, Virginia on March 16. Both Jill and Prevatt received certificates of Extraordinary Personal Action from the Red Cross for their heroic efforts, displaying the highest degree of concern one human being can have for another when they administered CPR to help save the life of a spectator who collapsed at a professional baseball game in Washington, D.C. last summer.
The Red Cross has been training people in first aid for more than 100 years. On average, more than 4.6 million people a year receive Red Cross training in first aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives.
“Emergencies can happen at any time: in the grocery store parking lot, at a family wedding, on a hot day at the community pool or even at the office and inside your very own home. But regardless of when and where they occur, emergency situations with a positive outcome usually have one thing in common: Someone who is willing to step up,” said Ally Kelly, interim executive director for the Southern Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross at a March 13 award ceremony. “All the [Lifesaving] awards and their recipients embody the spirit of the Red Cross, by using action to help alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency.”
The Red Cross offers a variety of online and in-person courses that teach how to perform CPR, help someone who is choking, control bleeding, treat someone having a heart attack and more.
Every second counts in an emergency. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass to register for a course today.
If you know someone who has helped save or sustain a life, nominate them for a Red Cross National Lifesaving Award at redcross.org.