Naperville cardiac arrest survivors meet those that saved them

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“I’m so glad to have the opportunity to sit at the table with the crew that saved my life and made it possible for me to see my great-grandchild,” said John Barber, a cardiac arrest survivor.

The survivors banquet

Thursday night was full of tears and happiness as Naperville cardiac arrest survivors were able to thank the first responders who saved their lives. The Naperville Fire Department held a special banquet at Meson Sabika for the occasion.

In 2020, the fire department had eight survivors and in 2021 that number went up to 15. Steve Kalkofen was among those whose life was saved after suffering cardiac arrest, due to the work of first responders.

“I’m a survivor because of the hard work, training, effort, and dedication by the Naperville Fire Department, the Edwards E.R., the doctors, nurses, dispatchers, you name it. And I’m so happy to be here at this banquet tonight to celebrate those heroes who saved me,” said Kalkofen.

Advanced Cardiac Resuscitation

In 2018, the department implemented a special cardiac arrest protocol called Advanced Cardiac Resuscitation (ACR). Because of ACR, the Naperville Fire Department has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the country at 22%, and the department is happy with its progress.

“The fact that we get to see the fruits of our labor. Right. We changed everything as far as our cardiac arrest protocol. We actually get to see these people walking and talking and having another day, another week, another month, another year with their families, and having them give their story is super powerful and super inspiring,” said firefighter and paramedic at the Naperville Fire Department, Bill Croft.

A moment to thank the first responders

At the banquet, some of the survivors got the chance to present the first responders that saved their lives with a clinical save award. They were also able to share their gratitude with all in attendance.

“I was given the opportunity to have more life with my family and I can’t thank you all enough, it’s a blessing,” said Julie Sunday, a cardiac arrest survivor.

“I’m extremely thankful for you guys, your dedication and your continued education, all of that experience is extremely helpful, and this banquet is nothing compared to what you guys have given me,” said Elizabeth Kaura.

The Naperville Fire Department continues to offer CPR training classes twice a month. More information on those is available on the department’s website.

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