Heroes among us


Patty Byrnes

“Patty told me her story, and I was awed by her bravery and courage but mostly her heroism. Her action really moved me,” says Ed Decker, Managing Director, Corporate Operations. “I brought the idea to Lori (Goodale, VP, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications). We immediately knew we needed to acknowledge and celebrate Patty.”

Patty’s act of heroism launched The Hero Award, allowing CrowdPharm the opportunity to recognize heroes within the agency.

Patty was on a mission to get her car washed, specifically choosing to do so in the middle of the day when no one would be there. This simple decision on timing put Patty in the right place at the right time. Because this particular day happened to be the day for garbage pickup. So stuck behind a garbage truck at the crest of a hill, waiting, Patty looked around. “I see a man in his yard on the side of his house, with a rake full of leaves, walking toward his backyard,” says Patty. “I watched him fall over. I wait for him to get up, but he doesn’t get up.”

I’ve never done anything like this to someone before in my life. I’ve only seen it on television, and I’m afraid the dog is going to bite me.”Patty pulled her car over, got out, ran to the front door, and started ringing the doorbell. No one answered. She ran back to her car for her phone and dialed 911. As Patty calls 911, the man’s dog comes around the back of the house and starts walking toward her. After a couple of transfers to the medical 911 operator, Patty tells the 911 operator the man is not responding to her or the dog. The operator tells Patty to start chest compressions on the man until the EMS arrives. “I’ve never done anything like this to someone before in my life. I’ve only seen it on television, and I’m afraid the dog is going to bite me,” says Patty.

The 911 operator tells Patty what to do, where to place her hands, how hard to push, and starts counting. Patty finds herself doing chest compressions. “I kept saying to myself, ‘I hope I’m doing this right.’ I called out to a car passing by,” says Patty. The car did not stop. Patty did chest compressions until Merriam Police Officer Gerry Eickhoff showed up and took over doing chest compressions until the Overland Park Fire Department paramedics arrived. Patty went back to her car, which was pinned in with 15 to 20 first responders. “When I got inside my car, I broke down. I was so upset that someone was in distress.”

After what seemed like a long time, a few responders came to tell Patty they had a heartbeat. They were rushing the man to the hospital. “Two days later, my home phone rings. It’s the sister of the man I had done chest compressions on. She called to thank me for saving her brother’s life,” says Patty, who admits that she still hadn’t at that time processed everything that had happened, and hearing those words from this man’s sister sent a chill through her body. “A week later, the sister sent me a text saying ‘Hi there.’”

At that moment, the phone rang. It was Edward Duda, the man Patty had seen fall calling her to thank her for saving his life. He carried on a full conversation, sharing with Patty that there was no lasting neurological damage that doctors or tests could point to.

A week later, a police sergeant called Patty to let her know Edward was home after being in the ICU for a few weeks with what was diagnosed as a heart attack. He also shared that that the city wanted to recognize her and the first responding officer, Eickhoff, in April for saving the life of someone in the city.

Patty finally met the man she saved when she was honored with the City of Merriam’s first Hometown Hero Award. Eickhoff was honored with a Life Saving Award. The EMS chief, Angela Caruso-Yahne, with the Overland Park Fire Department, also presented Patty with a “Heart Safe” coin. The inscription reads, “In recognition of saving a life… to save one life… is as if to save the world.”

With her grandchildren around her as she received these awards, she hoped that this act of helping someone in need serves as a life lesson for them. She was grateful they were there to experience this with her.

Patty never did get her car washed. But she is convinced that what she did is something that every one of us would do for someone else in need. “I truly believe it was instinct taking over,” says Patty. “I was scared, don’t get me wrong. And I find myself now thinking about how many people get an opportunity to do what I’ve done.” Steve Bernstein, CrowdPharm Partner, has had the pleasure of working with Patty for more than 30 years. “Patty has always been of the highest character. She strives to do what is right, regardless of whether people are watching or not. In this way, it is no surprise to hear of her heroic act, yet I was blown away when I did hear of it. Because in her way, a heroic act is not because somebody is watching, but only because it is the right thing to do.

Patty told Steve that she didn’t believe she was a hero, believing that ‘it’s just what anybody would do.’ “We all hope that we would be as heroic as Patty,” says Steve. “Patty has always been family first. We are lucky that she includes us, the people she works with, as her second family.”

As part of The Hero Award, CrowdPharm makes a donation to the charity of our hero’s choice in their name. Patty chose the American Heart Association. More than 356,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year. CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. “Let’s be ready to help when we witness someone in need,” says our hero and Merriam’s Hometown Hero.

About The Hero Award
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and from all corners of the world. They can be brave and courageous. They can demonstrate the moral integrity to stand up for others or have the inner strength and determination to move mountains, and people. Heroes put others before themselves for the greater good. Their selflessness inspires us all to work on being our best selves. Long after their acts of heroism, we will still be moved by their ability to change the world around them. Heroes give us hope.

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