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Bradford Woods woman's heroic story exemplifies foundation's objective

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Sue Hostler of Bradford Woods performed CPR on a young man who had a sudden cardiac arrest in an elevator at Philadelphia International Airport in August 2013. The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, based in Pine Township, is using her story to call attention to Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, which is October, and the importance of learning CPR.

Instinct took over when Sue Hostler of Bradford Woods encountered a young man face down in an elevator at the Philadelphia International Airport.

She had been racing for an elevator on her way to the parking garage. When she saw Bob Hallinan's unconscious body on the elevator floor, she knew exactly what to do.

The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, based in Pine Township, is using her story to call attention to Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, which is October, and the importance of learning CPR.

When she came across the man during a business trip in August, Hostler told one nearby woman to flag down the police or an emergency vehicle curbside and got another woman to help her turn the victim onto his back.

She called 9-1-1 and quickly started CPR. With training from decades ago, she pushed and set a rhythm.

“Pilots are trained to deal with emergencies,” Hostler said. “That helped me.”

Minutes passed. All the while, she stayed connected to the 9-1-1 operator. Having been at the airport hundreds of times, she was able to give the operator accurate directions.

“Get the EMTs here now,” she told the first police officer who responded. “This man is going to die.”

After 15 minutes, the technicians arrived. In two minutes, Hallinan's heart was shocked back into rhythm.

“He was in excellent shape, with no known medical problems at all,” Hostler said. “His heart just stopped.”

Although in a coma for a few days, he awakened completely recovered, Hallinan's mother told her. He had no neurological deficits.

“I was very glad I was there and that it had worked out,” said Hostler, a North Allegheny graduate.

Last month, Hostler met Hallinan and his family. There were hugs all around.

“His family is wonderful,” she said. “That's why he came back.”

Hostler will return to Philadelphia in November to help with a fundraiser to help pay Hallinan's medical bills.

Hallinan did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

“Sudden cardiac arrest affects about 1,000 people every day in the US, including young people like Bob,” said Mary M. Newman, president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. “On average, only 10 percent of victims survive, but when bystanders give CPR and use public access AEDs (automated external defibrillators), survival rates jump to about 40 percent.”

Newman said that “when victims suddenly collapse from cardiac arrest, there is a narrow window of time — generally less than 10 minutes — during which they can be resuscitated.”

She encourages everyone to take CPR training.

What had been a business trip turned into a fantastic rescue; Hostler never had performed CPR in an emergency situation before.

Her advice to others encountering a medical crisis is: “Just try something, anything. They're basically dead. Anything could possibly help.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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