INDEPENDENCE — Trevor Barre is a little squeamish when it comes to things involving medical emergencies.
Even in movies — when he knows it’s fake — it’s hard for him to watch.
But when action was needed, Barre did what he needed to do to save a man’s life.
It was just another day helping a lady with her yard and housework.
“I was in the backyard with my headphones on, so I couldn’t hear anything,” Barre recalled of that hot April Sunday. “Conveniently, I took them off and went in the house to watch some TV and grab a snack.”
That’s when he heard yelling across the street.
At first, he didn’t think anything of it, until he heard, “Breathe, Dave, Breathe!”
“I throw on my shoes and run over there to find Dave on the ground with a purple face, not breathing, just making gurgling noises,” Barre said.
Dave’s wife and Barre’s friend had already called 911, so he jumped in and began performing CPR.
“I did the compressions and the breath until the 911 operator had me just do the compressions,” Barre said. “They were giving me a beat to do it to.”
Barre performed CPR until Independence Officer Nic Rumsey arrived on scene and took over. Polk County Fire District No. 1 Deputy Chief Neal Olson arrived shortly afterward.
Olson said Barre’s actions saved a life.
Timing is everything.
Barre had just learned CPR the week before in his health 2 class at Central High School, taught by Keith Omlid.
As he went through the motions in class, Barre had no idea he would ever need to put the knowledge to use, especially not so soon.
“I was thinking I’m just doing it (learning CPR) to pass the class, you know?” Barre said. “I was never thinking that this is ever going to really help me in life. I mean, it’s something to keep in the back of my head, but after that happened, it changed my perspective a bit.”
After suffering a massive heart attack, the patient is OK, though he will need more surgeries, Barre said.
Barre’s swift response has everything to do with the positive outcome, Olson said.
“Anytime a patient goes into cardiac arrest, you generally have tissue death, brain and heart tissue death within four to six minutes,” he said. “In the time of emergency, it takes four to six minutes for us to arrive on scene.”
That includes the time it takes to realize there’s an emergency, call 911 and process and dispatch the call. Then first responders must get to their vehicles and drive to the scene. In town, that could be four to six minutes — too late for some experiencing a cardiac event, Olson said.
Citizen responders can make all the difference, he said.
“He didn’t have to go across the street; he didn’t have to get involved,” Olson said. “He responded. Nic Rumsey was in the area; he responded quickly, and was able to assist with CPR. I just happened to be down the street at church.”
Barre doesn’t want to make a career of directly saving lives. Instead, he would like to fly a medic helicopter for the Air Force.
“I want to be the pilot mostly so I wouldn’t want to be involved in a lot of that,” he said. “I couldn’t actually be much of a doctor. I can’t handle that kind of stuff, really. I say it’d be cool to drive an ambulance, but they have to help out with the people in the back. I can’t do that. That’s not my thing.”
Still, when he needed to, he didn’t hesitate.
“Mr. Omlid taught us just do it, you know?” Barre said. “Saving a life with a broken rib is better than no life at all.”