Heroes’ Tales

The power of emergency training and the right technology

by Pat Worden


The Devil Strip continues our series on the Red Cross Acts of Courage Awards, recognizing local heroes who’ve come to the aid of their fellow citizens.


Dr. John Bober, and APD Officer Jason Strainer

It was May 2017 and pediatric physician John Bober was in his East Exchange Street office when he heard a sound from outside — a thud, followed by cries for help. He looked out a window and saw a man on the ground, not moving.

Akron Police Officer Jason Strainer was patrolling his downtown beat nearby and noticed the commotion. He arrived at the stricken man’s side just as Dr. Bober did. They worked together quickly. As Bober retrieved the Automated External Defibrillator inside his office, Strainer performed CPR.

The outcome wasn’t perfect. Performing CPR and using the AED kept the man alive for several days until he passed away in cardiac intensive care. Those days were precious to his family, who were given the chance to say goodbye.

Bober and Strainer stress the importance of emergency training. CPR and AED courses are available to us all.

“Do what you are capable of but not beyond what you are trained to do. This may be just calling 911 and staying with the person until help arrives,” Dr. Bober says, Once a better trained person arrives, stand aside and let them do their job.”

Officer Strainer says calling 911 at the first sign of an emergency is the most important step.

“Get the medics responding,” he says. “And be aware of your surroundings. Keep yourself safe. If you’re called on to help, take a breath, and concentrate on doing what you need to do. Start on the most important task—whether it’s rescue breathing or putting pressure on a wound or just keeping someone calm. Take care of that and when you need to, move on to the next task.”


Karen Sheppard, Dan Flowers, Matt Petrick, Laura Deubel and Jennifer Dyer

These heroes are employees of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, who, as members of the ACRFB’s volunteer Emergency Medical Response Team, have comprehensive training in CPR, AED and first aid.

Their preparation proved necessary when an elderly volunteer collapsed. He was well-known at the facility for picking up food to pass on to people served by his church.

The team responded quickly and found that he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse. They began CPR while setting up the AED, whose robotic voice coached them through deeper chest compressions while periodically instructing them to “Clear!” so that defibrillation shocks could be administered. By the time paramedics arrived, the AED had delivered three or four shocks.

Physically and emotionally drained, the food bank team plummeted hours later when they were told the patient had died. It was a false report. Emergency room staff restarted his heart, and he was admitted to the cardiac care unit for recovery. Within weeks, he was discharged and returned to volunteering.

Karen Sheppard and Dan Flowers explain how having an AED on-site can help a trained and ready team save lives in an emergency.

“It will administer the shock only if is necessary. You don’t make the decisions — it will direct you to do chest compressions and emergency breaths as warranted. Again, go get it and put it on. Let it tell you what to do.”


Remember our three tips for handling emergencies:

1) Make sure the scene is safe and secure before you intervene.

2) Remain calm.

3) Call 911 or ask a bystander to do so.


For more information on first aid and CPR training, contact the American Red Cross (330-535-6131) or the American Heart Association (330-664-1930).  


Patrick Worden (Akron) is a former EMT and emergency medical dispatcher.


(All photos by Clum Creative/American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties)