CPR training, quick action saves Coralville woman's life

Red Cross official: 'Knowing CPR is so important'

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CORALVILLE — It was something she hoped she would never have to do, but on a fateful day in May, Ashley Neece put her CPR training to use.

And she saved a life.

May 18 started as a simple day of yardwork. Neece was busy picking up sticks as her landlord, Valerie Pettit, mowed the grass. When the roar of the lawn mower stopped, Neece became concerned.

“I went back there to check on her because I have to start the lawn mower for her because of her shoulder issues,” Neece said. “When I got around the corner, I saw she was down on the ground.”

Neece called 911 and started administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As a Coralville Parks Department employee, Neece had recently undergone CPR training.

“It just stunned me at first. It was surreal,” she said. “It didn’t seem like it actually happened and it took quite a while to sink in. It’s just amazing to know that I was able to help someone and actually save their life.”

Coralville Police officers Mike Darjania, Jeff Barkhoff and Kyle Nicholson arrived soon after the 911 call and took over the life saving process. The officers shocked Pettit with a defibrillator and were able to restore her pulse. She was transported by a Johnson County Ambulance to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for further care.

“I’m grateful to all four of them for saving my life,” Pettit said.

The three officers and Neece were honored at the June 13 Coralville City Council meeting.

“Their quick actions were noteworthy and the fact that Ashley had just gotten trained in CPR was a good opportunity to recognize them but also to call attention to the importance of being trained in CPR,” said Coralville Mayor John Lundell. “It was a great example of how you never know when you’ll be put into an instance where you have to use those skills.”

Neece was humbled by the unexpected recognition. Pettit and the three officers also attended the meeting.

“It was nice to meet the officers under less stressful circumstances and thank them again,” Neece said.

Nicole Breitbach, executive director of the American Red Cross Northeast Iowa Chapter, also highlighted the importance of CPR training.

“Knowing CPR is so important,” Breitbach said. “Every minute the defibrillation is delayed, a person’s chance of survival decreases by 10 percent and that’s kind of the same with CPR. Every minute is extremely critical.”

The Red Cross reports one in four people have been in a situation where someone may have needed CPR.

“Life is unexpected and you never know when something could happen,” Neece said. “With Valerie, I was just talking to her a few minutes before that and she had no apparent issues ... so it’s good to prepare for the unexpected in case it happens.”


Several area organizations offer CPR training. Here is a sampling of where to turn for those interested in training:

American Red Crossredcross.org/ia.

Area Ambulance Service — PULSE Program class offered at 6 p.m. the first Monday of every month at 2730 12th St. SW, Cedar Rapids. Info: (319) 533-9327.

Unity Point Health — For information, go to unitypoint.org/cedarrapids and look under the “Classes and Events” tab.

Mercy Cedar Rapids — For information, go to mercycare.org and look under the “Classes and Events” tab.

Kirkwood Community College — For information, go to kirkwood.edu/ce and click on the “CPR & First Aid” tab.

l Comments: (319) 368-8538; elianna.novitch@thegazette.com

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