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Emergency CPR responders honored for saving lives

Elizabeth Rupert sits outside of the Centre LifeLink station after being recognized by the Centre County Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association on Wednesday. Rupert performed CPR on man at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to help save his life.
Elizabeth Rupert sits outside of the Centre LifeLink station after being recognized by the Centre County Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association on Wednesday. Rupert performed CPR on man at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel to help save his life. CDT photos

Elizabeth Rupert said she stepped around a corner Jan. 12 in The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and encountered a man unconscious on the floor.

“You always think when you come across a situation like that, you will freak out,” the banquet server said.

But she didn’t panic.

“It was weird,” she said. “I was calm.”

And she put her CPR training to work.

Along with Penn Stater General Manager Judy Karaky, executive housekeeper Kerry Kassab and university police officer Hugo Triveri, Rupert helped save the man’s life.

The four were among 23 recognized Wednesday by the Centre County Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association during a ceremony at the Centre LifeLink station in College Township.

In honoring individuals for their life-saving efforts, the program also served to spotlight the need for more people to get trained to help when an emergency occurs, said Kent Knable, EMS chief at Centre LifeLink.

“It’s great to have a chance to give them kudos, and thank them for being willing to get involved,” Knable said. “Maybe somebody else will hear about this and will think, ‘I can do that, too.’ ”

Centre LifeLink’s Lauren Shurgalla and Eliza Shaw were recognized for organizing and conducting hands-only CPR training for nearly 10,000 people over a five-month period.

“If we can get more people involved in CPR, that’s how we’ll save more lives,” Knable said.

On that winter day at the Penn Stater, conference staff members jumped in when they saw a need, he said.

“I checked his pulse and he had no pulse, so we started with chest compressions,” said Rupert, who said she learned CPR as part of her training to become a physical therapist.

Knable said emergency responders love showing up at an incident to find other trained people already helping a patient — but that doesn’t happen often enough.

“That’s something we need to change,” he said. “You have to get the blood circulating and the oxygen circulating or the organs and the brain will begin to shut down. That could be the difference between life and death.”

Follow Chip Minemyer on Twitter @MinemyerChip.

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