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Chain of Survival: Good Samaritans save man in cardiac arrest at local school

SOUTH MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Not all heroes wear capes. A man is alive thanks to a group of Good Samaritans. The man had a sudden cardiac arrest in the South Milwaukee Middle School gym when fire officials tell us bystanders’ quick action saved his life.

From calling 911, to performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator, or AED, it was a chain of survival. During an adult volleyball game at South Milwaukee High School Thursday night, things took a turn for the worse for a 53-year-old player. The man’s heart stopped beating and someone ran to get help.

“He came to get me,” South Milwaukee School District Staff Member Colleen Placzkowski said. “I ran with him and we grabbed the AED on the way to the gym.”

When Placzkowski entered the gym, she saw the man lying on the ground surrounded by a crowd. The man wasn’t breathing.

“He was pretty purple and blue in the face,” Placzkowski said. “I'd seen that he had no pulse. He was blue. I started chest compressions.”

Placzkowski started giving the 53-year-old CPR while two others got the AED ready. Because of their efforts, the man is alive and recovering in the hospital.

“It was so scary,” Placzkowski said. “To see him opening his eyes, talking to his family, the best part was to see his family with him.”

When South Milwaukee fire crews arrived on scene just about three and a half minutes after they got the call, the man was already up. Fire Chief Joseph Knitter said that’s not typically the case when someone has a cardiac arrest. He calls all who helped heroes.

They literally saved a life,” Chief Knitter said. “That's something that some people will never, ever experience.”

Placzkowski, like other staff members, was trained in CPR by the South Milwaukee Fire Department. The Chief plans to recognize her and the other bystanders that helped.

“I think everyone was a hero,” Placzkowski said. “We all played a team role in it. I think it's very important for everyone to know CPR. It could save a life.”

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