When seconds counted, five Prairie Township Community Center employees were there.

Steve Kocher, 65, collapsed June 2 while walking with his daughter, Sarah Sinsel, on the indoor track at the center, 5955 W. Broad St.

Erin Hess, Michael Pollack, Iain Herring, Mary Beth Macekyo and Lisa Jones then played a role in helping to save Kocher's life, township officials said. The trustees on Aug. 1 approved resolutions honoring each of them.

Herring used an automated external defibrillator, and Macekyo and Jones coordinated communications with 911 operators and within the community center.

Officials said a review of surveillance footage shows Hess, a fitness instructor, responded within 20 seconds, and Herring had the AED machine hooked up after about a minute.

"The initial assessment showed he wasn't breathing and I immediately began chest compressions," Hess said. "I had just gotten recertified (in first aid) a month before, so I was really thankful to have that refresher course.

"I had never had to act on something like that before," she said. "It was an adrenaline rush, but God put me in the right place at the right time and we were able to work together as a team."

Kocher did not attend the trustees meeting, but is expected to recover, Sinsel said. She said she looks forward to getting back to their "Saturday routine" of working out at the community center.

"We are so appreciative of the community center staff. There's no doubt they saved his life that day," Sinsel said. "We're thankful. We didn't know he had a heart problem."

The community center has an AED on each of its two floors and the township requires staff members to undergo training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Muscle memory kicked in, said Pollack, a facility supervisor who was second on the scene.

"A 'code red' came over our walkie-talkies, and that means essentially that someone is showing no signs of life or not breathing," he said. "That was our first one other than training. You heard the seriousness in the front desk when they called it.

"For me, the biggest reward was when I heard he was alive and OK. I'm not one to receive thanks -- you do it, it's your job -- but it's important to recognize the training that we do. If it's used to save one life, then it's worth it."

Emergency crews have responded to the community center for things such as falls and sprains, but this was the first life-threatening emergency in more than three years of operation, said James Gant, Prairie Township's recreation director.

"We had five people all doing their parts," Gant said. "Every piece of that was vitally important to making sure we got this gentleman the help that he needed.

"The AED and the quick response was most likely what saved his life and this is what we train for. Everything worked the way it should work."

When township fire and EMS crews arrived a few minutes later, Kocher had been revived and was breathing on his own, fire Chief Chris Snyder said.

"By the time the fire department got there, most of the work had been done," Snyder said. "With their lifesaving actions, that (community center) member is still with us today. This could not have happened without proper preparation and proper training. It shows the commitment of the staff to training."

The community center offers CPR classes, and officials said they hope this story inspires more people to get trained in first aid.

"You couldn't ask for a better response," Gant said. "It was a beautiful day out; he and his daughter could have been out walking anywhere. If it had to happen, we're thankful that it happened here where we could help him."

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