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Trip to the salon saves Hickory Grove woman's life -- with some help from Round Up program

Trudy Sellers, left, Tammie Anderson, chair of the York Electric Cooperative's Operation Round Up board, and Matt Gilfillan, a volunteer Hickory Grove firefighter, gather in the Hickory Grove salon where Sellers had a heart attack in July. Gilfillan holds the automated external defibrillator he used to save Sellers' life.
Trudy Sellers, left, Tammie Anderson, chair of the York Electric Cooperative's Operation Round Up board, and Matt Gilfillan, a volunteer Hickory Grove firefighter, gather in the Hickory Grove salon where Sellers had a heart attack in July. Gilfillan holds the automated external defibrillator he used to save Sellers' life.

HICKORY GROVE -- If Trudy Sellers hadn't gotten her hair done on July 7, she might have died.

That Saturday, she had a heart attack. Without warning, she went unconscious in a salon chair at Affordable Cuts and Styles on Wylie Avenue. She was saved by friends and a rescue worker using a new community-funded automated external defibrillator.

On Thursday, she got to say thank you.

"Y'all saved my life," she said while at the salon. "If it hadn't been for y'all, I wouldn't be here."

Sellers doesn't remember anything about the heart attack, not even driving to the salon. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law, but that day, her daughter was away and her son-in-law was asleep. Had she been home, she believes it would have been too late before anyone found her.

But that didn't happen. Two women in the salon started cardiopulmonary resuscitation while others got help.

Angela Martin, 17, a York Comprehensive High School student, learned CPR in a health class in January. That Saturday in July, she was glad to put that training to use.

As she administered CPR, she said, she didn't think about anything. She was simply "praying and counting," she said.

Helping was Lindsea Cheek, a fire department and rescue squad member.

"My mind just went blank, and I remembered my training," she said.

It was difficult for Cheek because she has been friends with Sellers for a long time.

"It's even harder when it's somebody who is close to you," she said.

While the two women were administering CPR, a customer went to the fire department for help.

Matt Gilfillan and Will Revels from the fire department were returning from lunch when they saw the woman knocking on the door.

After hearing what had happened, Gilfillan grabbed the defibrillator that had been donated to the department by the York Electric Co-op's Operation Round Up program.

When he arrived, he hooked up the device and followed the directions. When it said to give Sellers a shock, he did. He believes that's what saved her life.

By the time she reached the hospital, she had pretty well regained consciousness, he said.

"Words can't explain how you feel after you save somebody's life like that," he said.

After the incident, Gilfillan, who works as a lineman for the York Electric Co-op, thanked the company for the donation.

"If it wasn't for this piece of equipment donated by York Electric, Miss Trudy probably wouldn't be here today," he said.

The device, which costs about $1,300, was one of 23 purchased with funds from the Round Up program funded by customers who request that their bills be raised to the next highest dollar. The money is used to aid nonprofit projects and needy individuals. About 60 percent of York Electric's customers participate. Since donations started in 2000, almost $1 million has been raised.

The average customer will give $6 a year, said Tammie Anderson, chair of the Round Up board that distributes the money.

The defibrillators help rural areas provide a better emergency response. Last July, a woman in York was saved with one of the donated devices. This is the first time the device has been used in the Hickory Grove area.

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