Minister's quick response saves church member's life (July 22, 2004)



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Minister's quick response saves church member's life

July 22, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0117}

n  Minister says choking incident is example of need for all churches to be prepared for health emergencies.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

MERRITT ISLAND — The Rev. Ginny Pearcy was preparing for the 11 a.m. worship service June 27, just as she does every Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church here, when a parishioner rushed into the sanctuary to tell her a child was choking in the fellowship hall.

Pearcy rushed to the fellowship hall and was told the little girl was choking on a piece of doughnut. Church and family members had tried the Heimlich maneuver to no avail and the little girl was unconsciousness. Pearcy launched into action and gave the girl three mouth-to-mouth resuscitations to resume her breathing.

"I worked on her for about three minutes," she said. "I hope no one has to go through that again. It was pretty dramatic to see."

MERRITT ISLAND  The Rev. Virginia Pearcy (left) shares a moment with office volunteer Joyce Andrade at Grace United Methodist Church here. A choking incident at her church has promted Pearcy to urge all churches to have members trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR and current first-aid kits that include barrier masks to be used during CPR. Photo by Jules Gurdgiel, Photo #04-0047.

Pearcy is the Florida Conference's parish nurse coordinator and chairwoman of the conference's Health and Wholeness Ministry. Her husband, the Rev. Robert Pearcy, is senior pastor at the church.

Pearcy said she knew it was critical for the girl to get oxygen and was relieved when the child began to breathe on her own. The girl was taken by ambulance to Cape Canaveral Hospital, and Pearcy joined her family there. The girl was transferred to Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando. She recovered and was discharged two days later.

The ordeal has prompted Pearcy to stress that every church needs to have a person trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR and current first-aid kits that include barrier masks to be used during CPR. Pearcy said churches should also go one step further and have an automated external defibrillator or AED. It is used to shock the heart back into its normal rhythm and prevents death from cardiac arrest. A church that has an AED would be trained on using the equipment and given guidance on managing its use.

"Churches can buy first aid kits already assembled in pharmacies or they can call their local chapter of the American Red Cross and learn how to put their own kit together," she said. "I think it's important for churches to have those and for churches to have people, either ushers or preschool workers, trained in CPR. All churches should have this. Even smaller churches can have someone who is trained who can save a life on Sunday."

Churches can apply for a grant from Golden Cross Sunday through the conference's Health and Wholeness Ministry for funds to purchase an AED or take CPR classes, according to Pearcy.

Golden Cross Sunday is a special Sunday offering of The United Methodist Church. The observance is on a date determined by the annual conference and focuses on the work of health and welfare ministries and institutions in the annual conference.

Pearcy, who has known CPR for more than 30 years as a registered nurse, said it was a blessing to be able to come to the aid of her fellow church member.

"I'm glad I could help," she said. "I'm glad she's all right. It was a blessing that God put me in the right place at the right time. I'm so pleased it worked out the way it did."

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This article relates to Health and Wholeness.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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