L to R-Case Manager Gloria Valdivia, Horizon Home Care Director Donna Simpson, Direct Support Worker Rachel Padilla and Home Support Services Administrator Dr. Phil Putnam during a ceremony to recognize the efforts of Padilla to save a young man in Casa Grande.
FLORENCE- What seemed like an ordinary Tuesday morning for Pinal County Horizon Home Care's Rachel Padilla turned out to be a life changing event for her and a young adult.
Horizon Home Care provides home health and home support services for medical and general health needs.
Padilla is a Direct Support Worker for Horizon who works in the Casa Grande area.
"On Tuesday, May 20, I was taking care of a client in Casa Grande," Padilla recalled. "Suddenly we began hearing dogs barking from across the street. They were constantly barking, going on and on. They wouldn't let up."
A family member of the client went to the door to see what the dogs were barking at and saw what appeared to be a person lying off to the side of the residential street.
The family member, a son of the Horizon Home Care client, went out to check on the person to see if they were okay.
"I watched him from the doorway," Padilla said. "I saw him checking for a pulse and then he started shaking his head."
Another neighbor appeared from a house nearby with a cell phone in hand.
"I started heading over there to see if there was anything I could do," she said. "The neighbor on the phone with 9-1-1 was yelling 'he's dead, he's dead.'"
Padilla kneeled to check the young man, approximately in his late 20's, for any signs of a pulse. Feeling the wrist and then the neck, Padilla was not surprised to find the absence of any signs of life.
"His skin color wasn't right," Padilla remembered, "he was gray and ashy. Just by looking at him you could see he was dead. It was hard to see at first, but I said to myself 'I have to do this'."
Padilla's field training included a class in CPR. Her training kicked in and she knew she had to try to breathe life into the young man.
"He was very, very stiff," Padilla said. "I was trying to move his neck, but he was really rigid."
Another problem posed to Padilla was that the young man's tongue had swelled up, making it hard to perform CPR.
"I couldn't get a breath into him," she said. "I kept on trying to move his neck up. I asked the woman on the phone to help me by pinching his nose shut. She was still on the phone with 9-1-1 while I kept breathing harder and harder, trying to get the air into him."
Padilla's efforts were rewarded.
"His whole body suddenly jerked which startled me. He started breathing again."
Unbeknownst to Padilla, a small crowd gathered around her while she was performing CPR.
"I thought there were only few people around us," Padilla said. "It startled me as they started clapping when the man began to take a breath. I really didn't know so many people were watching."
The unidentified woman in communication with 9-1-1 relayed to Padilla that the operator's instructions were to keep breathing into him until the ambulance arrived, but not to apply compressions to the chest.
"After about 6 breaths his color started coming back."
The ambulance arrived soon after the man started breathing.
Phil Putnam, Ph.D., the Home Support Services Supervisor for Horizon Home Services said that all Direct Support Workers receive CPR training before they head into the field.
"It's amazing," Putnam said. "She had finished her training only two months ago and put it to good use."
Padilla's efforts were recognized by Horizon Home Care's Director Donna Simpson. During a staff training session, Simpson awarded her with a certificate of thanks and a colorful plant.
"She certainly is 'Horizon's Hero.' We are proud!" Simpson said.
Following the short ceremony, Padilla said she was glad to have taken the training that allowed her to make a difference in another person's life.
"It makes me glad that I was able to help the man out," Padilla said. "I have five sons and if they were to collapse, I would want someone to help them. I was thinking that if I wasn't around at the time this man might not have a second chance."