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UCS grad draws on high school CPR unit to help save heart attack victim
UCS grad draws on high school CPR unit to help save heart attack victim
Posted on 11/16/2020
Phil Crum and Zachary FortressWhen Zachary Fortress heard a desperate call for help, his mind immediately went back to CPR training he received a few years ago at Eisenhower High School. 

“(Eisenhower High School Teacher Phil) Crum explained it in a way that was easy to understand as well as clearly made us realize that this skill is something that we can use anywhere anytime, for the rest our lives,” Fortress said. 

For Fortress, a 2019 Utica Community Schools graduate, that “anytime” happened to be when he was at a storage unit with his dad, and a middle aged man collapsed from what was later determined to be a heart attack. His co-workers began calling for anyone nearby who may know CPR. 

“Before I had a chance to think about it I said, ‘yeah, I do,’” Fortress said. “I’ve not practiced it or even thought about it since Mr. Crum’s Med Health class. But I knew I couldn’t just stand there and not help.”

Crum teaches the Heart Saver or Basic Life Support (BLS) curriculum. He said the goal of the program is to make students proficient at CPR skills and create a level of realism to the unit so that students can react calmly in the event they need to perform First Aid. 

“I love the idea of helping kids get to where they want to go career wise and giving them tools to succeed and make an impact in life,” Crum said “And the idea that Zachary was able to do the ultimate and save a life is just so rewarding- amazing actually.”

Fortress said when he arrived at the scene, the man was lying on a ground and “was in serious trouble.” He began the chest compressions he learned in class, and by the time an ambulance arrived, the individual was breathing and had a pulse.  

“When you’re taught CPR, you never think you’re actually going to use it. Or how you will react in an emergency situation,” Fortress said. “Mr. Crum had said to stay calm, and I did!”

Crum added: “The willingness to act is the first huge step and I am so proud of Zach for being brave enough to step in. Honestly, I want my kids leaving feeling like they ARE prepared and want to help.”