Hillary Gunn has been a bank teller for five years. She recently helped save a man’s life. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS
Hillary Gunn has been a bank teller for five years. She recently helped save a man’s life. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

From Teller to Hero

Published 12:54pm Saturday, January 11, 2014

FRANKLIN—When Hillary Gunn went into work one recent morning, she never expected to add lifesaver to her resumé.

A client came into Bronco Federal Credit Union, where Gunn works, and she could tell right away that something seemed off, so she kept an eye on him.

When he got to her window, he was out of breath and breathing hard, so she asked if he wanted to sit down while she finished the transaction. When he agreed, Gunn’s coworker, Katrina Manley, went out to help the man to a place to sit.

After taking three steps, the man collapsed. Gunn called 911, while Manley noticed that he wasn’t breathing and asked if anyone knew CPR.

“I was thinking that I wish the EMT would hurry up,” said Manley. “I usually freeze, but I was thinking that I’ve got to do something.”

It turns out, that Gunn not only knew CPR, but she was certified.

“After two rounds of compressions, he was breathing again,” said Gunn. “I can still see him. It scared me so bad — he was literally turning blue, and I had never seen that before.

“I was so worried that we would not be able to bring him back.”

She was also worried that if she froze up, the EMT would not arrive in time to save him, so she knew she had to do something.

“I just put myself aside,” Gunn said. “I went through it like you would read it in a textbook. Five compressions, one breath. I saw that it is not working, so I try 10 compressions and 2 breaths. I deal better with mechanics than I do with emotions.”

She said it not only helped him, that it did change her too.

“Since then, my observation of people has increased 10-fold,” Gunn said. “I’ve always been observant, but now it’s on a whole new level.”

She knew what to do because she had received training in CPR — her first class coming when she was 8.

“It was not a matter of wanting to go, but my family was going,” she said. “My mom and dad had always told me that if the knowledge was made available, you should take advantage of it.

“You always hope that you don’t have to use it, but it is better to know it and not use it because you never know when you might need it.”

She said that Bronco also had a big class three years ago, and one offsite more recently.

Pam Vaughan, HR manager, said that is good to have someone at each office with CPR knowledge, just in case. She also said she was proud of Gunn for what she did.

“To have someone like Hillary, who knows exactly what to do in that situation, is a good thing,” she said. “I think she did exactly what she needed to do.”

Manley said she was also proud of Gunn.

“It was awesome,” she said. “She stepped in like a pro and started performing CPR. It feels awesome to be able to help someone, though Hillary did it all.”

Gunn said that anyone who is offered the opportunity to take a CPR class should.

“Anyone offered a chance to take a CPR or emergency rescue class, even the basics, should,” she said. “You never know when you might could save someone’s live, maybe a loved one or even a complete stranger.”

The identity of the man has been kept private.

At the end of the day, Gunn said she was just happy to have helped someone out.

“I’ve thought about it over and over since then,” she said. “I was just very happy that what I did helped him get through what he was going through.

“I never expected to do something like that when I came into work. In fact, I almost didn’t come in that day. I was not feeling well. But, I was there by fate or whatever label you want to put on it.”

  • RoyDeSoto

    Great job and thank you all for helping this man. As a Paramedic, so many times I have arrived at a cardiac arrest after a long response time, knowing it is too late to save the person. We know that there is irreversible brain damage after just a few minutes of death, and death is absolute after 10 minutes. Once you figure in the time to recognize cardiac arrest, call 911, have the call dispatched, get to the ambulance, and respond, the statistics are grim. But several communities across the US have increased survival rates with a focus on community CPR. Some locations even have apps that alert CPR trained citizens when there is a 911 call near them for cardiac arrest. With all the advancements in cardiac health care, citizen CPR is still the weak link in the chain of survival. Even if you have not been trained in CPR, if you see someone not breathing, just put your hands between the person’s nipples and start pumping. The compressions should be timed to the BeeGee’s song “Staying Alive” (really!) and be at least 2 inches deep. Have someone call 911 and if there is an AED, use it. Together, we can save lives.

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  • hgunn0003

    Thank you, everyone for the great feedback. I’m honored to be recognized, though I have a hard time accepting the label of “hero”. I am quite serious when I say that everyone should take advantage of any opportunity to learn CPR. I am just so glad that the gentlemen made it through his trauma and that what I did helped to pull him through.

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    • RoyDeSoto

      Many people are reluctant to accept the label of “hero.” And that’s OK. What you did was “normal” for you. Nothing heroic, you did not risk your life dodging bullets or run through a fire. But you ARE a hero to that man and his family, and you are an example to everyone, what to do. YOU SAVED A MAN’S LIFE. That is not your job, but you did it. We need more people like you. Not everyone will get the opportunity, but everyone should be ready willing and able. Have you ever considered volunteering and becoming an EMT?

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      • hgunn0003

        Thank you so much, RoyDeSoto. That really makes me feel good. And until this happened, I hadn’t thought of volunteering as an EMT. It may be something I look into, though. This has definitely changed my outlook on many things. I hope that this prompts some CPR training classes available to the community and workplaces very soon. I, myself, would love to brush up on my CPR knowledge.

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  • ThisPlaceIsCRAZY

    We need to hear more stories like this, and we need more people like Hillary in this community.

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  • simpleman

    So proud of you! I hope i’m never put in that situation, but am happy to say I too am prepared to help if necessary. Great job!

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  • Lou Anne Davis

    Proud of you!!!

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  • wahoohick

    Thank you Hillary! You kept a cool head and you did what you had to do. We are forever grateful to you! He is family and you saved his life! Everyone should know how to perform CPR! God Bless you!

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  • employee2

    Good job and glad to know that some people are not afraid to jump in and help.

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