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.
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.
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.
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to email@example.com).
(Be a hero! Please click here to contribute to “06880.” Thank you!)