Training Saves a Life

Three hundred seconds.

That’s the difference between life and death for the nearly 360,000 Americans who experience cardiac arrest each year some place other than in a hospital. From the moment cardiac arrest begins, they have 300 seconds to get their blood moving and hearts beating again. After that, the survival rate in these conditions is less than 7 percent.

On Aug. 26, 2013, team member Buck Stotelmyer suffered a cardiac arrest at Lowe’s Flatbed Distribution Center in Hagerstown, Md. Stotelmyer beat the odds. He survived and is recovering because the team at FDC 1427 knew what to do in those critical 300 seconds. But it almost didn’t happen that way.

Immediately, the training kicked in. You’d think people would panic, and there would be a free-for-all, but we knew right away what to do. It was a great team effort.
– Daniel Remaley, Lowe’s assistant operations manager

Safety is built into the culture in Hagerstown. Every employee goes through extensive training in handling emergencies like this one, and when the time came they were ready.

“Immediately, the training kicked in,” said Daniel Remaley, assistant operations manager. “You’d think people would panic, and there would be a free-for-all, but we knew right away what to do. It was a great team effort.”

One employee called 911, while another started CPR. Others cleared the yard for first responders to arrive, as another ran to the entrance to guide them in. It was as well executed as a game-winning play. And it almost didn’t matter.

Even though help was on the way and CPR was being administered, Stotelmyer needed an automated external defibrillator to restart his heart. Just a few months earlier, that life-saving device was kept in a different building, several hundred yards from where he had collapsed. But a thoughtful suggestion by a team member, and a manager who took the time to listen, moved that AED into the warehouse where the majority of the facility’s employees work, and infinitely closer to the man who needed it to save his life.

“A lot of times we just do what we’re told,” said facility manager Pennie Guske. “But that was an excellent suggestion. If I’d had to run down to the main office, it would have taken me a lot longer to get back with the AED.”

Three hundred seconds is all Stotelmyer had. Training, teamwork and one suggestion made those 300 seconds matter.