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Par for the CPR Course

Senior Saves Woman’s Life while Caddying
Connor Harling
Senior Connor Harling caddying at Knollwood Golf Course.

It’s not every day that one can say they saved a life. But that day came for senior Connor Harling while he was caddying at the Knollwood Club on  June 27.

Harling was on the Knollwood Golf Course caddying for the Ladies’ Club when he noticed a woman in severe distress on the tenth tee box.

“I looked over after she turned around and half of her face was blue,” said Harling, who has worked as a caddy for three years.

Realizing she was in distress, he immediately sprang into action to help, applying the techniques he had learned from the First Aid/CPR health class he had taken the previous semester.

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“I knew she was choking so I stepped in and started performing abdominal thrusts like I was taught in class,” said Harling.

As a result of his efforts the food was quickly dislodged from her throat and she was able to take a breath.

Nobody thinks they’re gonna have to use them, but the truth is if I did not know how to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, there’s a good chance that Margie would not be alive today.

— senior Connor Harling

“While I was performing the abdominal thrusts, some of the other ladies were shouting for help, and a few more were on their phones calling for assistance,” said Harling.

After the food came out of her throat it took a few more minutes for her to fully catch her breath.

“At that point, Margie, the woman I had saved, told me she was very thankful to have had a caddy present that knew how to perform the Heimlich,” said Harling.

Coincidentally, the next day when Harling arrived for work he was assigned to caddy for Margie’s husband, a man whom he had never met before.

“Her husband thanked me for saving his wife’s life and expressed his gratitude for what I had done,” said Harling.

After this experience, Harling realized the importance of becoming CPR-certified and taking first aid classes.

“I think that people underestimate how important some of these first aid skills are until they find themselves in a situation where they actually have to use them,” said Harling. “Nobody thinks they’re gonna have to use them, but the truth is if I did not know how to perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, there’s a good chance that Margie would not be alive today.”

Harling earned his CPR certification during his junior year in the dual credit CPR and First Aid class that is run through CLC and offered at LFHS.

“The first thing to do is stop for a second and assess what’s going on, then from there decide the best course of action. ‘Check the scene’ as Mr. Soprych, [LFHS CPR and First Aid teacher] would say when we were in class, and take everything into account so that the person you are taking care of is safe as well as yourself,” said Harling.

Harling’s former CPR teacher expressed the importance of being well-versed in emergency procedures.

“I believe learning these skills is critical, as knowing CPR, high-quality chest compressions, and AED training can help save lives,” said Soprych. “Connor used his skills learned in class to help a choking victim by performing back blows and abdominal thrusts.”

Learning CPR and emergency response skills has additional benefits. “If you go into any job, being CPR certified is an A+ and can be very beneficial,” said Soprych. “It adds to your value as a person, furthermore, health class in general teaches decision-making skills, which we all can benefit from.”

Other students who have taken health classes that emphasize first aid and other emergency responses agreed that they gained tremendous value and a personal sense of confidence knowing that they can apply what they learned in class to handle emergency situations.

“It brings me peace of mind to know that if an emergency situation were to arise I have the skills to save a life,” said Emma Stadolnik, a student who became CPR certified through the LFHS Lifeguarding class.

There is a growing awareness of the value and the need to acquire First Aid/CPR/emergency response skills on the LFHS campus, by both students and teachers.

“I would like to see the CPR & First Aid program expand; along with Mr. Fiordirosa’s Lifeguarding class. My goal would be to have every junior and senior learn CPR, first aid, and AED training before graduating from LFHS,” said Soprych.

Harling’s advice to others from this experience is that in life you never know what situations you will encounter so it is best to be prepared. “Simply because I paid attention in CPR class I was able to save a person’s life,” said Harling.

This story was originally published on The Forest Scout on September 27, 2023.