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Advice to take to heart: Learn how to save lives –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Olney resident Mannie Wong believes two angels were with her when she suffered a heart attack in the Redland Middle School gymnasium last March.

They jumped into action, using their lifesaving skills to help Wong.

In an effort to pay it forward, she and her family attended the recent CPR/AED training workshop sponsored by Olney Rotary Club and designated a new AED — automated external defibrillator — to be installed in an Olney shopping center.

On March 8, 2019, Wong, 47, was attending her son’s basketball game on a typical Friday night. She had worked all day and was looking forward to going out to dinner with friends after the game.

“I didn’t feel bad or weird or anything,” she said. “I was sitting next to my daughter in a chair. There was no sharp pain, numbness or anything, I just leaned on her shoulder and slid to the floor. I don’t remember anything. I woke up in the ICU.”

Her husband told her that she had seizure-like movements, her face turned purple and she wasn’t breathing.

Fortunately, Jeremy Gruber was in the house.

His son plays on the same basketball team. Gruber is a retired captain of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services and founder/co-president of Rescue One, a local company offering emergency and safety training, AEDs and supplies.

When Wong fell ill, Jeremy directed someone to get the AED and to call 911.

Another parent at the game, Henry Welsh, a retired D.C. Fire and EMS battalion chief, started CPR while Gruber used the AED.

“I shocked her one time and we started to see signs of circulation,” he said.

Gruber said that is the first time he has had to use an AED as a bystander.

He knew an AED was available because Rescue One donated 76 AEDs to all of the middle schools in Montgomery County and also maintains them.

While at Redland for a game two weeks before, Gruber checked that AED.

Wong said she had had a physical two months prior and her electrocardiogram

showed a slight abnormality. The doctor told her to follow up with a cardiologist.

She had no family history and doesn’t smoke or drink.

“I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this happened to me,” she said.

Her doctors still are not sure what happened, she said. There were no clogged arteries. It may have been a virus that caused her heart to “balloon.”

She is doing fine today.

“I am extremely fortunate,” she said. “I had two angels with me that night who were able to help and literally saved my life. I am extremely grateful.”


Olney Rotary Club steps up to help


In 2018, the Olney Rotary Club embarked on a project to install eight to 10 AEDs in Olney shopping centers.

An automated external defibrillator) is used to help a person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The device can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

AEDs are easy to use, featuring verbal prompts to walk the user through the process.

The Rotary Club has installed two AEDs at Fair Hill shopping center.

As part of Rescue One’s Forward Hearts program, a cardiac arrest survivor who had to use a defibrillator can donate another one to a charity of his or her choice. Wong chose to donate an AED to the Rotary Club.

Mike Weiner, immediate past president of the Rotary Club, said that AED will likely be installed at Olney Village Center.

At the Feb. 1 CPR/AED training event, approximately 200 people attended the morning and afternoon sessions held in the Oak Room of Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department.

“It was fantastic,” Weiner said. “There was a really warm response from those who took the training, and many asked when we will do it again. Most likely, we will.”

Gruber agreed, saying it was a great partnership between the Rotary Club, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue One.

“The people asked great questions and I think they got a lot out of it,” he said. “We trained 200 people and now there are 200 more responders out in the community.”

Wong attended the event with her husband and children.

“I realized I almost died and wanted to give back to the community,” she said. “I also wanted to bring awareness. I would have never thought I would have a heart attack at 47.”

She said her children were excited about going.

“I am very proud of them,” Wong said. “They saw what happened to me and this was a way for them to do something about it.”

She said the training was helpful.

“I encourage everyone to take CPR and be trained to use an AED,” she said. “It really is a lifesaver.”


    Tax-deductible donations to the Olney Rotary Club’s AED project can be made online at http://olneyrotary.org.

    The American Heart Association designates February as American Heart Month and Go Red for Women, its global initiative to end heart disease and stroke in women. Launched in 2004 to close the gap in awareness, Go Red expanded into a worldwide movement dedicated to removing the barriers women face to achieving good health and wellbeing. For more, visit www.heart.org.

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