Caregiver hero receives award

Staff Reports

Paramedics and firefighters from the East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts visited Merrill Gardens at Gardnerville to present a Community Hero Recognition Award to caregiver Mary "Willie" Matlean on Oct. 30.

The award recognized Matlean for her "heroic lifesaving actions on Oct. 7, 2008." The award was recognized by the East Fork Professional Firefighter's Association, Local 3726.

During dinner on Oct. 7, a resident in the community's Alzheimer's/dementia memory care dining room began choking on a piece of food. Emergency service was called and in the meantime, Matlean performed the Heimlich maneuver, and dislodged the item that was constricting the resident's airway. When the paramedics arrived, the resident was breathing normally and talking. The resident was transported to the emergency room to be checked out, but returned home with a clean bill of health later that evening.

"In 12 years in this career, I have never seen the Heimlich performed with a positive outcome prior to us arriving on scene," said Heidi Neilson, the East Fork firefighter/paramedic who presented the certificate to Matlean. "This is an example of why everybody should take CPR, which includes training on performing the Heimlich maneuver and other lifesaving first aid measures."

Merrill Gardens General Manager Jeri Shields said all Merrill Gardens employees are certified in CPR and first aid.

"We hope we never have to use that training, but as demonstrated in this situation, it's vital to be prepared," said Shields. "We are so proud of Willie and commend her for quick action and for always taking great care of our residents."

East Fork Fire & Paramedic Districts teaches CPR once a month and classes are open to the public. Call 782-9040 for class information.

Merrill Gardens is behind the Carson Valley Medical Center at 1565-A Virginia Ranch Road in Gardnerville.


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