Rockford council applauds life saving heroes

A Rockford man has two young women, Rockford first responders, and professionals from local fire departments and ambulances to thank for his life. They were all recognized in a heroes ceremony in the beginning of the Monday, April 9, regular meeting.

Kirsten Platto, of Rockford, and Caitlin Rittersdorf, of Sparta, both age 24, were at Snap Fitness in Rockford when a 71 year old Rockford man collapsed in cardiac arrest on February 26 of this year. The two began CPR after calling 911. Within minutes first responders from the Rockford Department of Public Safety arrived and continued emergency medical attention. First responders from Algoma Township and Rockford Ambulance also played a role in the life saving efforts.

The city meeting room was packed with an audience there to recognize the decisive action that saved the man’s life and when Chief Dave Jones awarded the young women with plaques of appreciation and told their story the entire room stood to applaud. The wife of the man, who were there for the ceremony, tearfully thanked the women for their actions.

“He was just an old man who had collapsed to you, but to me he is my husband and I have him here today because of what you did,” she told the girls. “I love him,he is the love of my life, thank you.” Hugs were exchanged between all the parties, including emotional tears.

The fourteen first responders were also recognized at the meeting and members of each departments were there for the ceremony. A press release by the City of Rockford’s Jennifer Vlas stated that the American Heart Association refers to the steps necessary to save a life as the Chain of Survival. The first vital step is CPR, followed by defibrillation and medical life support. Without the support of everyone who contributed that day, the chain would have been broken.

Further, the efforts were aided by the local “echo call system” used by many different agencies to ensure that any nearby first responders will come to an emergency. Previously, emergencies were expected to be responded to by the responders in that jurisdiction, which could mean that valuable time was wasted for the victim.

“With the echo call system, we see inter jurisdictional efforts to save lives,” stated Chief Jones. “For this particular case, first responders from both Rockford and Algoma answered the call. Rockford officers started immediate defibrillation, while Algoma’s LUCAS devise, an automated compression machine that Rockford does not posses, made a significant difference in the chances of survival.