By C.O. Montgomery
What do a power line foreman in Rush County, President Lyndon Johnson, my late mother-in law Judie Anderson, Burge Terrace Baptist Church and our former President, Barack Obama, have to do with American Heart Month?
Thanks to February being American Heart Month, they are all related. One of the greatest ladies I have ever had the pleasure to know was my late mother-in-law. Judie would be embarrassed to know that she is mentioned in the same company as the others. Judie didn’t have much education. She was born in Williamsburg, Kentucky, in 1922. She passed from this earth in 1996. She, like a lot of folks, made up for her lack of a formal education by using “common sense.”
Her favorite charity was the American Heart Association. She suffered from heart problems during her life, so Judie felt it an honor and privilege to be a “captain” for the Indiana Chapter of the American Heart Association.
Every February she would either knock on doors or finagle her friends and relatives into donating. The culmination of the month was a visit to the Indiana Governor’s Mansion. She proudly went each year. Many times she took my wife. Did you know that Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed February American Heart Month? The then-president did so more 50 years ago. This tradition was recently carried on by President Obama.
Recently an acquaintance of mine, Jean Harcourt from Milroy, suffered a near-fatal heart attack. But the remarkable story is that an ex-marine and foreman for a power company saved her life. Sam was doing his routine duties that morning. He normally would check on his line crews. The line crews met for breakfast in Milroy at a local restaurant. That morning, he had not planned on doing so.
However, in what could only be described as divine providence, Sam and Miss Jean Ann met. You see, Sam decided to turn left towards Milroy to converse with his line crew. What happened next was, in his words, a “surreal” experience.
When Sam reached the restaurant, his linemen were in the midst of a lifesaving effort for Jean Ann. Sam immediately started CPR. Milroy is a small town. The Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched. Also, the career fire department was dispatched from Rushville, some 24 miles away. Sam knew that time was of the essence.
As the fire crews were loading Jean Ann into the ambulance, both Sam and another lineman were assisting the first responders. When one is doing CPR, it seems like an eternity until the first responders get there. The first responders used a defibrillator to restore the heartbeat.
But if it were not for the actions of Sam and others, she would not be with us today. The CPR training that Sam used paid dividends that fateful day.
Small changes in your life can make a tremendous difference in regard to your heart health.
To begin with, you can schedule a visit to your doctor to simply talk about the health of your heart. Add exercise to your daily routine. One can begin by simply walking 15 minutes a day three times a week. Take steps to quit smoking. Brandee Bastian and Hancock Regional Hospital have an excellent smoking cessation program. Finally, above all, enroll in a first aid CPR class. The cost is negligible in terms of the reward.
Now how does Burge Terrace Baptist Church play into February being American Heart Month? You see, Burge is one of many churches, community centers and hospitals that will teach you first aid. I am not simply talking about bandaging a cut finger, nor how to splint a broken arm.
Today’s first aid training is referred to as Heart Saver First Aid, CPR and AED. In talking with Southern Hancock School’s superintendent, Linda Lantrip, about the matter of CPR, I found it refreshing to know that the state of Indiana does require a teacher to be certified in CPR at time of their license renewal.
I urge you to become certified like I have in this very valuable training.
One only knows when divine Providence may place you in a situation like Sam & Miss Jean Ann. Please get this valuable training. Especially during American Heart Month.
C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher, Sugar Creek Township trustee and co-director of the Hancock County Character Council. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.