Thomas Morton: There are angels among us

By Donetta Godsey
Winfield Courier – May 7, 2015

Thomas Morton, left, and Aundreae Meyer share a hug Wednesday morning at the Winfield Fire/EMS station. "I know I would not be alive today if it weren't for Aundreae," Morton said. (Donetta Godsey/Courier)

Thomas Morton, left, and Aundreae Meyer share a hug Wednesday morning at the Winfield Fire/EMS station. “I know I would not be alive today if it weren’t for Aundreae,” Morton said. (Donetta Godsey/Courier)

From left, Chad Mayberry, Jacob Coble, Jodi Morton, Brad Kline, Amy Kondziola, Thomas Morton and Aundreae Meyer gather at the Winfield Fire/EMS Station on Wednesday to get reacquainted. (Donetta Godsey/Courier)

From left, Chad Mayberry, Jacob Coble, Jodi Morton, Brad Kline, Amy Kondziola, Thomas Morton and Aundreae Meyer gather at the Winfield Fire/EMS Station on Wednesday to get reacquainted. (Donetta Godsey/Courier)

Thomas Morton is quite certain he has several guardian angels. Some of his angels recently came to him wearing the uniforms of Winfield Fire/EMS. His special angel, however, is Aundraea Meyer, of Arkansas City.
On April 25, Morton, 60, and his wife Jodi were taking a walk near Elizabeth and Ritchie streets in the early afternoon. Without warning, Thomas went into cardiac arrest and slumped to the ground. Jodi, who knows some basic CPR, immediately used her cell phone to call 911. The dispatcher sent out Winfield fire/EMS personnel and assured Jodi that they could “talk her through” the steps she needed to begin to perform CPR on Thomas.
At that same time, Aundraea Meyer was in the area. After dropping off a friend to work at Rest Haven, Aundreae and her husband Jason were planning on doing some “garage saling” in Winfield.
“As we drove by, we noticed a man lying on the ground,” Aundreae said, “and I asked Jason if he thought we should stop and help.” Her husband knew that Aundreae had been trained in CPR when she took some EMT classes and knew her assistance could be invaluable, so they stopped.
“Can I help you?” Aundreae asked Jodi as she approached. “I know CPR.”
Jodi was immediately glad to have additional help. Aundreae took over the chest compressions on Thomas, counting and telling Jodi when to give him mouth-to-mouth respirations in between. Jason Meyer stood by helping to keep them both calm, Aundreae said.
Within minutes, Winfield firefighter/lead paramedic Brad Kline and firefighter/paramedic Amy Kondziola arrived at the scene along with firefighter/EMTs Captain Chad Mayberry, Jeff Bowker and Jacob Coble.
“When we arrived,” Kline said, “he had some respiration, but it was not sustainable on his own.” They began using a Lucas 2 (Lund Hospital Cardiac Arrest System) — affectionately known as the “geezer squeezer” — to provide automatic mechanical CPR and transported Thomas to William Newton Hospital. Later, he was taken to the Kansas Heart Hospital in Wichita where they did surgery to place two stents in his heart. He received two additional stents before being released three days later.
“(The cardiologist) said Thomas’s blockages were what is commonly known as ‘the widow maker,'” Jodi said. “He told us Thomas now belongs to the 3-Percent Club because that’s how many people survive this kind of heart attack.”
Morton’s total recovery with virtually no damage to his heart can be directly attributed to the treatment he received within the first 10 minutes following the attack, the doctor told Morton. Three similar cases treated at the hospital that day had not been so lucky.
“I am extremely blessed that there were so many good, trained people around when it happened,” Thomas said. “I feel like I am truly a walking miracle.”
On Wednesday, Thomas and Jodi visited the Winfield Fire/EMS with a basket of goodies to express their thanks. The paramedics had arranged for Aundreae to be there, too.
After hugs all around, Thomas filled the group in on recovery details as well as some background.
“I wasn’t your typical ‘heart attack waiting to happen,'” said a very fit and healthy-looking Thomas. “I walked 87 miles in April and biked over 300 miles since the first of the year, including up some mountains in Colorado. But I am a candidate because of genetics.” Several of his family members have had cardiac episodes.
Because of family history, when Thomas previously experienced some chest pain, he was concerned, but when he was checked out, nothing was ever identified as a problem.
“In fact, I was in the emergency room the night before this happened and had several EKGs, and they looked normal as far as anyone could tell,” Thomas said. “The diagnosis I got was acid reflux.”
As everyone gathered in the lobby of the fire station Wednesday morning, both Thomas and Jodi held back tears as they thanked everyone who had been involved with helping to save Thomas’s life.
“I kind of wanted him around a little longer,” Jodi said as she took his hand, “and I can’t thank you all enough.”
Thomas said he was grateful for Aundreae and the fact that she was compassionate and caring enough to stop and help a stranger.
Winfield firefighter/EMS Aaron Sutton said he, too, was very impressed with Aundreae.
“Not many people in this day and age would stop and offer to help,” Sutton said, “but maybe that’s because they don’t feel like they know how.”
To that end, Sutton said his vision is to have Winfield qualify to be a Heart Healthy Community.
“What that means is that a certain percentage of the residents of the city will be trained to perform CPR,” Sutton said. To help that happen, Winfield Fire/EMS will have a booth set up during Relay for Life to be held in June at Jantz Stadium.
“We’ll be offering CPR instruction right then and there,” Sutton said. “It will not get you certified but will give you the necessary tools to provide CPR in the field if necessary.”
“This just shows that everyone needs to know CPR,” Thomas said, “because even if it’s not a member of your family who needs help, it may be someone else.”
Paramedic Brad Kline said he’s had a couple of “saves” in the past, but this is the first time he’s ever had a victim come back to the station to express thanks.
“Sometimes we call the hospital and check to see how someone (we’ve transported) is doing, but we rarely get to see just how well everything’s turned out,” Kline said. “This really has been a success story for us.”
When the 41st annual EMS Week is celebrated from May 17-23, Thomas and Jodi will be happy to acknowledge they know several of these dedicated, skillful and caring professionals.
Ironically, some of the equipment used on Thomas has left subtle indentations on his chest that closely resemble an angel with wings spread.
“There really were angels around Thomas that day; that’s proof,” Jodi said.



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