Linda Hume has several people she now considers heroes for life.
On Oct. 2, 2020, the Seymour-Redding Elementary School third grade teacher was in her classroom with some students who were waiting to go catch the bus when she collapsed behind her desk.
A student immediately went to get help, and third grade teachers Kylene Steward and Jennifer Alberring went to Hume’s room. They got the kids out of the classroom, contacted the school office, called 911 and called Hume’s husband, Jim.
When administrators Aaron Floyd and Steve Bush realized she wasn’t breathing, CPR initially was administered before Bush grabbed an automated external defibrillator. With the help of school nurse Rhi Chandler, Floyd got the AED hooked up on Hume and shocked her heart twice.
When local police, fire and ambulance personnel arrived at the school, custodians and teachers escorted them to Hume’s classroom to administer aid.
Hume was then taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour before being transferred to St. Francis Hospital in Greenwood. She wound up receiving a pacemaker.
“I am so thankful for these people,” Hume said Monday during a special presentation at the school.
That afternoon, Chris Snodgrass, president of LifeLink AED Specialists, and Steven Schloss, channel partner manager for ZOLL, presented Hume with an AED to give to anyone she wanted. She chose the school, so Redding will have three AEDs.
They also gave an Unexpected Hero Award to Floyd and Steward. Plaques also were made for Bush and Chandler, but they weren’t present to receive them. Plus, plaques will be made for Alberring and another third grade teacher, Riley Stuckwisch.
This was all part of ZOLL’s Heroes for Life program, which acknowledges rescuers for their heroism and celebrates survivors of sudden cardiac arrest.
When a survivor agrees to share their ZOLL AED save story, he or she is presented with a device to donate to their charity of choice. This is a way to celebrate survivors and allow them to pay it forward to help another sudden cardiac arrest victim.
By sharing rescue stories, the critical role bystanders play in helping to increase the odds of survival can be emphasized. It also is a way to educate people about the importance of administering high-quality CPR and using an AED to restore a normal heart rhythm.
Hume said she was contacted by Seymour Community School Corp. School Nurse Coordinator Sherry Reinhart about sharing her story.
“At first, I’m like, ‘Do I want to share my story?’” Hume said. “Then I’m thinking when they are giving this back and I can help save someone else’s life, there wasn’t a thought. Yes, I would definitely do that.”
Snodgrass, who takes care of AEDs around Jackson County, said Seymour schools have had AEDs for more than 20 years, and Reinhart regularly ensures they are ready to use.
“She stays on top of this program. Her and I talk, it seems like weekly, to make sure she’s on top of things to make sure pads, batteries, everything is rescue ready every single day,” Snodgrass said. “I would be hard-pressed to walk around any of these schools because there are probably 35 in the Seymour school system and I would say that every one of them would have a green indicator and they are ready to go. She’s that adamant about it.”
Floyd, who is now the school’s principal, said he and Reinhart are constantly making sure they are ready to go.
“We’ve never had any concerns as far as not only access to equipment but just knowing that our equipment is going to be there if we need it,” he said. “We hated that we had to use it, but thank the good Lord it was there, and it certainly was a benefit to us that day.”
Looking back to that day, Hume said she felt perfectly fine and had no symptoms. She suspects it was an electrical problem with her heart.
“I’m very thankful and grateful, very appreciative,” she said of the aid she received. “You think things like this will never happen to you, but you just take it one day at a time, give your family a hug, tell them you love them.”
In late June 2013, Hume’s daughter, Emily, was a seventh-grader when she started showing flu-like symptoms, her body began to crash and she was lifelined to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.
A virus had attacked and weakened her heart, so doctors performed open heart surgery and placed her on a machine temporarily to take over the heart’s function. She was in the intensive care unit for about a month.
Then in December of that year, doctors tried to remove the Berlin heart to see if Emily’s heart was better, but it wasn’t, and she was put at the top of the heart transplant list. In late February 2014, she received a call that a donor heart was available.
After they prepped and sedated Emily for surgery, doctors determined the heart wasn’t going to work. But a second donor heart became available, and on March 21, 2014, she received the transplant.
Emily is now a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington.
“We had testing done to see if it was genetic, and it wasn’t,” Linda said. “I didn’t have the gene that they thought I could have with her.”
Presenting the AED and awards was special for Snodgrass because he had his own heart issue in 2011 and had to have a pacemaker and defibrillator put in. That resulted in him retiring early from the Seymour Fire Department, and he went on to start his own business distributing AEDs.
“Since I’m retired from the fire department, this has just given me that link to stay in public safety and helping people, and it’s awesome when we get to see situations like this,” he said.
This marked his first Heroes for Life presentation, and Snodgrass has three more to do in Columbus because there were three AED saves in the last six weeks.
“This kind of stuff really hits home for me knowing that people are out there and they are willing to step up because we still live in a society where people are scared to get up and do anything, and I don’t want you to be scared because my device may not function right and I may be that guy lying on the ground that needs somebody to put the defib on me,” he said.
Floyd said school personnel are required to get AED and CPR training, but they hope they never have to use it.
“It was the first live use that I’ve ever witnessed or been a part of,” he said of the incident in Hume’s classroom. “We were pretty numb throughout that whole ordeal. You get the value of that device and getting that on and used as quick as possible. When I look back now, there was a lot of emotion attached to it, and you only can just do what you can.”
Fortunately, he said an AED is simple and clear to use, as it gives audible instructions.
“The simplicity of the device was very helpful and just very easy to use. I think a child could do it if they had to,” Floyd said. “There was a ton of different small, little details that all came together that just one error in one of those things could have been a significant impact on things, so you look at just the choreography of things that took place.”