Southview alumna helps save life

Mary Helen Darah

Erin Mills

University of Toledo senior and Southview High School alumna Erin Mills, used a defibrillator and CPR to keep a St. James Club member alive until EMTs arrived at the scene. Mills, a personal trainer, who has been accepted into the University of Toledo Doctor of Physical Therapy program, said she will remember the experience for the rest of her life.

Mills was working June 20 at St. James Club, 7337 W. Bancroft St., instructing a group exercise class. A club member was working out at the same time the class was occurring. “We were finishing up the cardio portion of the class. I didn’t see her before she became unconscious but I heard her hit the ground. She had been working out on one of the machines,” she recalled.

“She was on her stomach when she fell. I turned her over to discover that she had already become blue and was completely unresponsive. I felt for breathing under her nose and there was none. I noticed there was gum in her mouth and removed that. We called 911. The other trainer, Ashley Siefred, and I agreed we should start compressions so I began along with mouth to mouth.” At that point, the other trainer ran and got the defibrillator and handed it to Mills who was able to hook the equipment in place. “We were able to use the defibrillator a few times before the EMTs got there. She remained unresponsive when emergency crews arrived. They were working on her for a while.”

Mills recalled, “Even when she left for the hospital, she remained in that state. They were using a Thumper, it looked like a halo that went over her chest with what looked like a plunger that delivers continuous chest compressions. They pumped her with drugs and attempted to put a tube down her throat, but were not successful. It took them some time to get a heartbeat.”

Mills was able to remain calm through the chaotic experience. “People always ask me what was going on in my head,” she said. “While working on her I was able to remain calm and focused on the moment. My head was everywhere but I kept focused on the next steps, the beats and compressions. I did have some thoughts racing through my mind such as what was the cause of her collapse, did she choke on the gum and, most importantly, will she be ok.”

Recently the club member came to visit Mills and thank her for her heroics in saving her life. “It was very sweet,” said Mills. “As a trainer I am required to know CPR but it is so important for anybody, no matter what job or setting they are in, to know these life-saving skills.” Mills is extremely aware of her environment since the incident. She said, “I am definitely on my toes since then, even if I’m working at the front desk. I am very aware of my surroundings. I’m so glad I could be the person to step up and do what needed to be done. I am thankful she’s ok and that I was able to be the one to help. Going into physical therapy, it was very affirming that I am on the right path. I highly encourage everyone to learn CPR. It could be you in need some day and you would want people to have the skills to protect you.”

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