Wildwood Community Church in Norman, Oklahoma, has a tradition of extra-special Mother's Day celebrations. Turnout was understandably high for the 2022 services this past May; church administrator Herschel Thompson estimates between 100 and 150 attendees at the 8:30 a.m. service.
An unexpected turn
Just as the senior pastor Mark Robinson was nearing the end of his sermon, Jeff Frederick, a longtime member of the Wildwood community and physician assistant by profession, heard an unmistakable sound—the gasping often heard moments before someone’s heart stops.
Pastor Mark also noticed something amiss; a congregant near the front of the church was swaying back and forth. As Pastor Mark asked for anyone with medical training to come forward, Jeff was making his way toward those sounds through rows of visitors.
Kacy Doughty, a former ER nurse and new mother, was also in attendance that Sunday and recognized the sound of someone in distress. She quickly fought through the crowd toward congregant David Hunnell. By the time Kacy and Jeff got to him, the people around David were holding him upright.
Attendees moved aside chairs and cleared a space to lower David onto the floor. Kacy and Jeff checked for a pulse or any signs of consciousness. When they found none, Kacy began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compressions. Church officials moved everyone out of the sanctuary to help the rescuers focus on assisting their fellow congregant.
I powered on the AED and the first thing I heard was the instruction to remain calm. That guidance really helped me recenter and continue.
– Jeff Frederick Wildwood Community Church, Norman, Okla.
Operating on instinct
Jon Dunton handed Jeff the automated external defibrillator (AED) that usually hangs on the church wall. When it was clear there was a medical emergency underway, Jon's wife Leanne had asked him to retrieve it. Coincidentally, Jeff was one of the congregants that encouraged the church elders to purchase and install the AED over a decade ago, and he later trained staff to use it.
“In that moment, a voice in my head said, ‘What are you doing?!’” Jeff recalls. His movements were automatic. He unbuttoned David’s shirt, applied the electrodes, and connected the leads to the ZOLL® AED Plus® defibrillator. Again, Jeff heard the same question echo in his head: What are you doing?
“I powered on the AED and the first thing I heard was the instruction to remain calm. That guidance really helped me re-center and continue,” recalls Jeff.
After analyzing David’s heart rhythm, the AED instructed the rescuers to deliver a shock, and then guided them to continue CPR. When Kacy became fatigued, her husband took over compressions
and Kacy watched the real-time feedback on the AED, coaching the compressor to adjust pressure until the AED provided feedback that said,
“Stop! Stop!” Kacy shouted suddenly. David had regained consciousness! The Fire department arrived about 10 minutes later, followed quickly by the EMTs, who transported David to the local hospital. As he was being wheeled out past congregants entering the church for the next service, David
could be heard apologizing to the pastor for ruining his sermon.
In the Cath Lab later that day, doctors located a blockage in David’s heart and implanted a stent. When Jeff went to visit David in the hospital the very next day, he wasn’t there. He’d been released that morning!
An extra reason to celebrate
It turns out that David hadn’t felt well Sunday morning and had considered staying home. At one point during the service, he’d even thought about sitting in his car. Either choice would have had a very different outcome. The members of the Wildwood Community Church are thankful he chose to attend service despite not feeling well.
Thanks to the foresight of a few congregants and church elders, as well as the monthly battery and electrode checks of dedicated facility director, Garry Krueger, this year’s Mother’s Day at Wildwood Community Church was just a bit more joyous than usual.