Unsung Hero #279

In October 2015, the Staples High School boys soccer team I was coaching played Stamford.

At halftime — as usual — Wrecker fans came down off the hill, and kicked around in front of the goal.

Suddenly there was a commotion. Andrew Ingber — a Staples student — had suffered cardiac arrest.

Mark Gudis — father of a player — saw what happened. He raced to his car; an AED was always in the trunk.

Someone alerted Staples’ athletic trainer, who was at a field hockey game on the adjacent field.

AEDs — with clear instructions on how to use them — save lives.

She raced over, and used the AED. The “automated external defibrillator” is an easy-to-use device that analyzes a heart’s rhythm and, if needed, delivers an electric shock that jump starts it.

It worked. Andrew — who had no pulse — came back to life. Today he is fine, and thriving.

But it was one of the scariest events I’ve ever seen.

In the aftermath of that near-tragedy, Gudis and his wife MaryGrace donated 100 AED boxes. Working with Norwalk Hospital, they’re now installed at athletic fields, gyms and other facilities throughout the area the hospital serves. There are 20 in Westport.

In addition, the Adam Greenlee Foundation provided another 75 AEDs for Westport. Adam’s life was saved at Bedford Middle School by an AED, and the quick action of staff members.

Over time, those AED boxes have shown wear and tear. The other day, “06880” posted a photo of one at Winslow Park.

The AED was removed from its box during the cold winter months. It had become an unofficial lost-and-found items.

Lost and found at Winslow Park … (Photo/Dick Truitt)

Now they look great.

Judy Panzer spent the past few weeks working her way around town, cleaning up all the boxes.

It’s a labor of love.

Her son is Andrew Ingber — the teenagers who, had it not been for the quick thinking of Mark Gudis, and the AED in his car might not be here today.

So to Judy Panzer, Mark and MaryGrace Gudis, and the Adam Greenlee Foundation: Thank you! You’re all our Unsung Heroes.

PS: Extra thanks go to Norwalk Hospital Emergency Medical Services. They’re exploring a phone app that will alert users to the location of the nearest AED – and enable them to provide feedback on the condition of the devices they see.

Clean AED at Winslow Park. Sometimes, when they are locked, the code is actually 911 — try that before the time-consuming step of calling 911 to find the code.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to 06880blog@gmail.com).

(Be a hero! Please click here to contribute to “06880.” Thank you!)


13 responses to “Unsung Hero #279

  1. Wonderful! But is there a list somewhere of the location of these life saving boxes? Everyone in town should know and be reminded of where to find them in an emergency — I had no idea any existed!

  2. esp like your code tip, I’m in downtown nyc and better to know how to open these ourselves than to rely on our very, very extremely busy 9-1-1 😉

  3. AEDs save lives. Dan covered the story of how my wife, I, and others saved a life out on the water using one where the survival rate was practically 0% (6% on land). We pay a lot of taxes, there should be AEDs everywhere. All schools, public parks, town buildings, etc. Private businesses should invest in them as well. Police/fire boats should have them. etc

  4. Anastasia DeLuca

    I would also like to mention that Officer Casey Mezewrewski at the Westport Police Department was instrumental and his quick thinking efforts at Bedford Middle School saved a student’s life. Thank you to all that keep these efforts going. God Bless all involved. Truly a miracle.

  5. Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

    Good post and and essential to any side line. I might mention a tip highlighted on HBO Real Sports for those forthcoming two a hot summer sessions. A simple kiddie pool filled with ice water diminishes the chances from death from heat stroke dramatically.

  6. Great article Dan. Kudos to Mark and MaryGrace Gudis, Judy Panzer and the Adam Greenlee Foundation! Let’s add one more unsung hero- “the athletic trainer” you mention who arrived to do CPR while Mark Gudis got the AED. That was
    Gaetana “G” Deiso- the head trainer at Staples HS for over ten years!

    • Nicole Donovan, a Westport EMS volunteer, also helped. She was at a swim meet at Staples when her son Johnny texted her what was happened. She raced over, and provided essential, life-saving care.

  7. The free app Pulse Point shows five AEDs in Westport: Town Hall, Winslow Park, the Transfer Station, Longshore Park and Saugatuck Railroad Station. A community’s EMS/Fire/Rescue adds AED locations to the app, from what I can tell:


  8. Great article and kudos to the Gudis.
    The idea about the app is good. What about getting the app to also alert the EMS when an AED box is opened so professional can quickly get to the site of the incident.

  9. heroes. someone should submit them for red cross heartsaver award

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