The culture of response that saved a man’s life

38-year-old Taylor Heisey was waiting in line for ice cream at The Jigger Shop in Mt. Gretna Pennsylvania, when he heard the commotion outside. He certainly wasn’t expecting to use his skills as a volunteer firefighter that afternoon to help save someone’s life.

When he followed the noise outside, he saw a group of people attempting to remove a person from the driver’s seat of a car. It appeared that a 72-year-old man had been backing into a parking space when he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. The man had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

Heisey still recalls how all the bystanders were doing their best to try and help. They removed the man from his seatbelt and placed him safely on the ground. At that point, Heisey noted that CPR was started and someone in the crowd called for an AED. Another person knew that the closest AED was located in the 24/7 accessible SaveStation at Gretna Music at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse and went to retrieve it. Someone else called 911.

The Mt. Gretna Playhouse where the SaveStation (AED) is located.

The AED that was used that day was donated to Gretna Music, in the summer of 2021, by the Peyton Walker Foundation in partnership with The UPMC Pinnacle Foundation, who supports their AED donation program. The Peyton Walker Foundation was established in memory of 19 year old Peyton, whose young and vibrant life was stolen by Sudden Cardiac Arrest on November 2, 2013. The Foundation honors her memory by providing low cost CPR training for the community, and has donated hundreds of AEDs throughout Central PA to nonprofits, schools and youth athletic leagues. Read Peyton’s Story

“We are so incredibly honored to report that a 4th life has been saved using an AED donated by The Peyton Walker Foundation. Every life saved motivates us to continue the work and spare other families from the tragedy that we live with” says Julie Walker, Peyton’s Mom, founder and Executive Director of The Peyton Walker Foundation.

One of the foundation’s board members had been teaching CPR in Lebanon Pennsylvania for the two years prior and felt there was a need for an outdoor AED in the tourist attraction area of Mt. Gretna. The purpose of this donation was to provide the community with immediate access to a life-saving AED in the event of a cardiac emergency, for moments just like this. In addition, Gretna Music has continuously provided their staff with Hands-Only CPR and AED training, to prepare for this type of emergency, and their efforts paid off.

Suzanne Stewart, Executive Director of Gretna Music (left), Mika Cook, Community Development Specialist for Gretna Music (middle), and Susan Hostetter (right).

“Via our partnership with The Peyton Walker Foundation, we are humbled and amazed to learn of the recent AED save in Mt. Gretna. Serving the community is our top priority, and nothing proves that more true than being able to provide life-saving devices. With recent cardiac arrest headlines in the news, it is more important now than ever that AED and CPR awareness and training is made readily available and accessed by all who are able,”  says Matt Connors, Major Gifts Officer, UPMC Pinnacle Foundation.

As soon as the defibrillator was on scene, Taylor Heisey joined the team of Good Samaritans and took charge of applying the AED pads to the patient and remembers following the voice prompts.  Although his experience as a volunteer firefighter helped him in this moment, anyone on scene that day could have used the AED because it clearly explains exactly what to do in order to deliver a life-saving shock. The group continued to alternate providing strong chest compressions and following the AED’s instructions. By the time emergency services were on scene, Heisey estimates that they performed CPR for at least 18 minutes, and shocked the unconscious man three times.

As Taylor Heisey returned to the ice cream shop he spoke to the Fire Chief and was told that in the ambulance the man had regained a pulse and was now breathing on his own. This positive outcome was due to the immediate response of a group of bystanders who recognized something was wrong and took immediate action, along with the quick access to the publicly accessible AED that was donated by the Peyton Walker Foundation.

We are so thankful that the proactive steps taken by everyone who was involved that day in the Mt. Gretna area prepared them to successfully respond to this cardiac emergency, and that another life was saved.

The beat goes on…

Be the reason for the next great save!