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Life Saved With Help Of Portable Defibrillator

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 17, 2005; Page AA03

Gary Glennon's heart stopped at a police station in western Anne Arundel County. He lost consciousness and collapsed in the booking area, the bridge of his nose striking a countertop as he fell to the floor.

A booking officer called for help, and officers streamed in to help Glennon, a civilian employee. They tried CPR. They felt for a pulse. Nothing was working. Glennon began to turn blue.

Gary Glennon hugs Anne Arundel police Capt. Athena Marpel, who helped save his life last month when he had a heart attack at the police station. (Hans Ericsson For The Washington Post)

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"When I opened the door, Gary was lying on the floor in a large pool of blood," said Tom Middleton, a detective.

Middleton ran and got a portable defibrillator -- a device that shocks a heart in cardiac arrest back into normal rhythm -- that would soon jolt Glennon back to life.

Glennon, still recovering after quadruple bypass surgery, thanked Middleton and other officers at a news event at the county police headquarters last week. Glennon, who declined to reveal his age, said he felt "lucky, very lucky, to have had these people around me" a month ago, on the morning of Valentine's Day.

But the credit for saving his life, those on hand last week said, must be shared with the late Cliff R. Roop, who was a Republican member of the County Council from Severna Park, and those who have worked to memorialize him.

In January 2000, Roop suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised council meeting in Annapolis. Roop, 45, left the council chamber and collapsed.

After his death, a foundation was formed to commemorate him by raising private money for automated defibrillators to be placed in public buildings and elsewhere. To date, 19 defibrillators have been placed in locations around the county.

The incident at the Odenton police station marked the first time that one of those devices was used to save a life, the foundation's board members said last week.

"We really believe that these are life-saving opportunities," said Brenda L. Desjardins, a member of HeartSmart: The Cliff R. Roop Cardiac Support and Education Foundation.

Whether such a device might have saved Roop is unclear, board members said. "We try not to let people think Cliff would still be here if they had a defibrillator," said board president Ken Brannan. "Nobody can say."

One of the group's fundraising events is a St. Patrick's Day raffle scheduled for 6 p.m. today at the Saucy Salamander, a cafe on Riva Road in Annapolis. Tickets are $10 each and the top prize is $500. Proceeds will go to the purchase of more defibrillators.

On Feb. 14, the electrodes of the defibrillator in the police station were placed on Glennon's chest -- one on the left side, the other on the upper right. The device soon detected that his heart was in cardiac arrest, Middleton and other officers said.

"Shock advised," an automated voice said. "Stand back."

"We got everyone to stand back, and I pushed the shock button," Middleton recalled. "Within seconds he got a pulse and opened his eyes."

About five minutes later, Middleton said, the paramedics arrived.

Those minutes may have been crucial, according to Medtronic Emergency Response Systems, the company that sells defibrillators to the foundation. Jim Springer, a company account manager who was at the news event last week, said that for every minute a person is in cardiac arrest, the chance of survival drops 10 percent.

Also credited with helping to save Glennon's life were Capt. Athena Marpel, Lt. J. Doyle Batten, Sgt. Kathy Pleasant, Cpl. Bill Schepleng, Cpl. Brian Smith and booking Officer Larry Branson.

At the news event last week, a grateful Glennon said he was still convalescing after heart surgery and was unsure when he would return to work.

"I just don't know how to thank someone for saving my life," he said. "What do you say?"

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