All In A Day’s Work: A Workshop Save

It was late afternoon when Kevin Bledsoe started wrapping up his day of carpentry work. The 69-year-old former agricultural chemical applicator was enjoying his retirement working as a local handyman, specializing in home remodels in his community of Forest, Indiana.

On that spring day, he had been working on a painting job in the home workshop of Dave Jordan, a friend he often worked with. Mentioning that he was feeling just a bit “off,” Kevin was preparing to head home for the day when he collapsed onto the workshop floor.

Just at that moment, Dave’s son Sam happened to stop by the workshop for some tools. Seeing Kevin lying unresponsive on the floor, Sam suspected sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and immediately jumped to action, calling 911 and starting chest compressions, guided by dispatcher Brandon Clark.

About six minutes later, Forest Volunteer Fire Department EMT Seth Kirkendall arrived and alternated performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) with Sam until police sergeant Thomas Pelling arrived with a ZOLL® AED (automated external defibrillator). Seth quickly applied the AED pads to Kevin’s bare chest. Within two minutes of his arrival, Sgt. Pelling administered the first of two defibrillating shocks to attempt to restore a normal heart rhythm.

After delivering the shocks, Seth and Thomas continued performing CPR until Clinton County EMS paramedics arrived and stabilized Kevin’s condition. With a confirmed heart rate, he was transported to an Indianapolis hospital for further treatment.

The quick action of the first responders/heroes, as well as the ZOLL® AED, saved my life, and I am extremely thankful.

Kevin Bledsoe,
SCA survivor

Kevin, who had no prior history of sudden cardiac arrest and remembers nothing about the event, says, “The quick action of the first responders/heroes, as well as the ZOLL® AED, saved my life, and I am extremely thankful.”

Thanks to the immediate response and combined efforts of Sam Jordan, Seth Kirkendall, and members of the Clinton County Sheriff’s office and EMS teams, Kevin is again spending time in the workshop. Kevin’s son Jake reports that while he is not yet back to where he was before the SCA, all things considered, his dad’s recovery has been great.

Jake notes that the Jordans, at whose workshop Kevin was working at the time of the SCA, are lifelong family friends. “Sam and I have been best of friends since high school,” he says. “It means a lot to me that one of my best friends played such a crucial role in keeping my father alive.”

Reflecting further, Jake adds, “When you come close to experiencing death, you realize how unimportant many of the things we routinely worry about in life really are in the grand scheme of things. Focus on the important things – family, friends, and spending time with loved ones – and don’t get so caught up with the less important stressors of today’s society.”

Kevin Bledsoe reunites with his rescuers.

Kevin is fortunate to live in a community that understands the importance of timeliness in cardiac emergencies. Acknowledging that police deputies often arrive on the scene prior to EMS, the Sheriff’s Office in 2020 placed 34 AEDs in its vehicles and throughout its facilities. This enabled Sgt. Thomas Pelling to take quick lifesaving action upon his arrival at the Jordans’ workshop.

The Bledsoe family has chosen to donate a ZOLL® AED in Kevin’s name to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, to help it achieve the goal of equipping every squad car with a potentially lifesaving device.

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