SILVERDALE — Nov. 23, 2017 was no ordinary Thanksgiving Day for Tom Wilkinson and his family.
Wilkinson collapsed outside Dick’s Sporting Goods during the Silverdale Turkey Trot. Event participants Gretchen Ta, a nurse practitioner, and Nathan Sharp, a firefighter/EMT at Bangor, just happened to be jogging in the same area when Wilkinson collapsed. They administered CPR while someone called 911.
Within eight minutes, CKFR crews loaded Wilkinson into an ambulance and transported him to a hospital. Thanks to the life-saving efforts of Ta and Sharp, Wilkinson made a full recovery.
“My dad is doing great, and we’re thankful,” said Wilkinson’s daughter, Rebecca Lizon. “It was a really long holiday season, but we’re grateful for the positive outcome.”
Lizon said her dad, who lives in Arizona, was visiting for the holidays. The family decided to participate in the Turkey Trot for the first time because her sons are interested in cross country.
“We’re so thankful for everything that they’ve done,” Lizon said of Ta and Sharp. “He wouldn’t be here without them. We’re grateful for the miracle.”
At the CKFR board meeting Jan. 8, Ta and Sharp were presented with Citizen Life-Saving Awards by Chief Scott Weninger and Lt. Kevin Bernt.
Bernt said saving a life is “a community event” called the Chain of Survival.
“Someone recognized it was a sudden cardiac arrest, and then someone acted in a time of need,” he said. “That’s what we’re here to celebrate today, that someone did act, knew what they were doing and did it appropriately. We did have crews at the event waiting for something like that … They responded very quickly. Everything worked very great.”
Bernt said the most important thing a witness to such an event can do is call 911 for help. CKFR crews were present at the Turkey Trot in case they were needed; they were on the other side of the Kitsap Mall. Even still, Ta and Sharp were able to ensure Wilkinson pulled through in the minutes it took for emergency responders to arrive, take over care and transport him to the hospital for medical attention.
According to CKFR, after Wilkinson was released from the hospital, crews were invited to the family’s home to celebrate his recovery.
“After several weeks in the hospital, Tom had been released and now he and his wife, Lil, are back in their Arizona home,” CKFR reported on its Facebook page. “Every minute counts during a cardiac event, and Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue greatly appreciates the immediate actions of the fellow race participants who began CPR.”