A Love Of The Fair Carries On

The temperature was in the mid-90s on the second to last day of the 2022 Kansas State Fair. The fair welcomes nearly 350 thousand visitors over the course of its 10-day run. This year, troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol assigned to the fairgrounds were fielding numerous requests for medical assistance, mostly because of the hot temperatures.

Troopers Clayton Hill and Justin Mueller were on duty that afternoon. “We were driving by the Sheep, Swine, and Goat Building when a couple of guys stopped us,” recalls Trooper Hill. Someone had collapsed and needed assistance. “We followed them into the building to find a woman lying on her back on the show floor,” explains Officer Hill.

Judging pauses

Just prior to the troopers arrival, competitors had been presenting their show pigs to a panel of judges while audience members looked on from the bleachers. Just as Tonya Hoskinson and her two teenage sons presented theirs, Tonya suddenly collapsed. Troopers Hill and Mueller found Tonya surrounded by mulch and lots of people moving about quickly, unsure of what to do. “We got many medical calls throughout the week. But the second we got in there, it was obvious this was more serious,” Trooper Hill recalls. Tonya’s eyes were open, but she wasn’t responding. Troopers suspected sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Trooper Hill immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and asked Trooper Mueller to run and find an automated external defibrillator (AED) somewhere on the fairgrounds. Trooper Hill then asked Tonya’s husband to kneel by her head and talk to her while others formed a barrier between Tonya and the crowds in the bleachers.

“After the first shock, the AED was saying ‘Continue CPR,’ so I knew I was doing the right thing.”

— Trooper Clayton Hill,
Kansas Highway Patrol

“It seemed as if only 2 or 3 seconds passed, and I looked up to see Trooper Mueller standing above me with an a ZOLL AED Plus® defibrillator. In reality, Trooper Mueller had run to the Expo building on the 273-acre fairgrounds to retrieve it. “Other than during training,” Mueller recalls, “I’d never used an AED.”

Trooper Hill powered on the AED and attached the electrodes to Tonya’s chest. The AED immediately analyzed Tonya’s heart rhythm and advised a shock. “After the first shock, the AED was saying ‘Continue CPR,’ so I knew I was doing the right thing,” Trooper Hill recalls.

Tonya was transported to a local hospital and awoke in the emergency room with no idea how she got there. She spent four days in the ICU and received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. A year later she has recovered without restrictions, other than her family’s request that she no longer show pigs at the fair. Instead, she supports her children’s efforts to show their livestock. “I’m grateful that there were a lot of friends and family around when it happened to support my boys,” she explains.

Tonya Hoskinson (center) and family.

Tonya Hoskinson (center) and family.

Timely fairground improvements

When Bryan Schulz started as the general manager of the Kansas State Fair in 2021, one of the first things he asked was where he could find the AEDs. Upon learning there were none on the fairgrounds, he set to work with the fair’s director of marketing to raise grant money to purchase some. Thanks to a generous grant from a local business, Bryan and his team purchased and installed 10 ZOLL® AED Plus defibrillators during the summer of 2022, just before the fair — and Tonya Hoskinson’s SCA. Tonya was one of two individuals who suffered SCA that year. Since then, Bryan and his team have raised funds to purchase and install 8 additional ZOLL AED Plus defibrillators. The Kansas State Fairgrounds currently has 18 AEDs sited across its grounds, all clearly identified on the fairgrounds map and ready for an emergency.

Anything can happen, and now anyone can help.

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