A combination of training, experience and technology allowed an employee of the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department to save a life a few months ago, and this week he was recognized for his actions.

A combination of training, experience and technology allowed an employee of the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department to save a life a few months ago, and this week he was recognized for his actions.

Program leader Mark Rechsteiner was commended on Wednesday by city leaders for quick thinking during a situation that took place Dec. 2 at the Upper Arlington Senior Center, 1945 Ridgeview Road.

Rechsteiner said he was standing in the Studio 55 workout room that day chatting with some seniors when a man on an exercise machine just a few feet away suddenly yelped and fell to the floor.

"He went down like a board," Rechsteiner said. "You probably could have heard his head hit the ground from the other room."

An Arlington native who has worked for parks and rec for 21 years, Rechsteiner quickly assessed the 78-year-old man's situation and began chest compressions.

Two others in the room came to help, along with two social workers who were in the building's computer room. Rechsteiner sent one of the women to call 911 and retrieve the building's automated external defibrillator (AED).

"About the time the AED came in, one of the social workers was able to take over chest compressions for me, and another gentleman worked to take the seals off the machine while I cut off the gentleman's sweater," Rechsteiner said. "We were able to transition pretty seamlessly."

An AED is a portable device that automatically detects abnormal heart rhythms and administers a shock to the victim's heart.

"It was just like you see in the medical TV shows," Rechsteiner said. "The AED delivered a shock, and immediately the gentleman started breathing and had a strong pulse."

An EMS unit from the UA Fire Division arrived soon after and transported the man to Riverside Methodist Hospital, where it was determined he had experienced a sudden cardiac arrest. The man was discharged a few days later.

Rechsteiner said the man has been back to the senior center many times since the incident.

"Mark's willingness to intervene during this highly stressful situation was critical to the successful outcome experienced by this patient," said Fire Chief Jeff Young. "His previous training, the availability of the AED, and the immediate measures taken by those present were key pieces in a cardiac survival system that includes EMS advanced life support and aggressive medical facility intervention."

There are AEDs in all Arlington government buildings, in various city staff vehicles, and in numerous public buildings, schools and businesses, according to fire division public information officer Dan Kochensparger.

Rechsteiner downplayed his part in saving the man's life.

"I just want to emphasize that it was a real team effort, there were five of us there to help," he said. "I was just the first responder."