HERO: Georgia Gwinnett College police officer saves woman having heart attack at YMCA

HERO: Georgia Gwinnett College police officer saves woman having heart attack at YMCA
(Georgia Gwinnett College/Handout)

WINDER, Ga. — It was a scary moment at the Winder-Barrow Brad Akins YMCA when a woman collapsed near the swimming pool. But lucky for her, Georgia Gwinnett College police officer Ashley Still was in the building.

Still was in the gym working out on Feb. 10 she saw a frantic employee running towards her, looking for help. The employee knew Still and knew she was a first responder. Running over to the pool, Still immediately knew what was happening.

“I immediately recognized it as full cardiac arrest. She had no pulse and was displaying agonal gasps. I went to straight hands-on CPR, working with the team of people that were there,” said Still.

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The YMCA team had brought out the facility’s defibrillator to help and as it turns out, Ashley Still happens to be a certified defibrillator trainer for the College.

“The purpose of an AED is to restore a normal cardiac rhythm. Normally in cardiac arrest the heart is kind of going nuts. The AED shocks the heart to restore the normal rhythm. Having that available really helps people,” said Still.

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It did not take long for the combination of CPR and the defibrillator to get the woman’s heart to start beating again, the quick response saved her life. Still, who led the effort to save the life of someone she’d never met, had just taught a Basic Life Support class days before.

“The training definitely just kicked in. So many times repetitively teaching about it – it just took over,” . “Everything worked exactly how it’s supposed to,” said Still.

The college says Still, a six year veteran of the police force, has been has been their biggest advocate for AED machines, her motivation coming from the loss of her father to a heart attack.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of people in the United States. My dad died from a cardiac-related event, so I get what loss is about. My sister passed in 2014 and my dad passed two years later. The knowing of loss is the driving factor for the medical stuff that I like to teach. I love anything preventative, so if I can prevent loss, or hurt, or sadness — whether it’s crime or health-related — that’s my ultimate goal,” said Still.

Still says at the end of the day, she’s just happy to have been at the YMCA when the situation occurred and that she was able to be there for someone in need.

“From what I understand she was there to watch her grandkids at their swim lessons. She wasn’t supposed to be there – she changed her mind last minute – so, it worked out for her too. Everybody being at the right place at the right time,” Still said. “Last I heard, she’s doing fine. I understand she’s still in the hospital. That’s a bonus. The fact she’s here to see her grandkids another day – that’s all that matters to me,” said Still.