By Haley Spracale
In a heartbeat, a seemingly ordinary afternoon at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor in Tempe turned into a life-or-death scenario. Jim Wise, owner of the store, was having a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest.
That’s when Arizona State University student Chance Buddecke called on the cardiopulmonary resuscitation lessons he’d learned in his high school health class at Corona del Sol. He and Wise’s wife, Sara, jumped into action.
This month, just weeks following the incident, both Buddecke and Sara Wise were honored at Corona with a Citizen Life Saving Award from the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department.
Fire Chief Greg Ruiz praised the duo’s actions as he recounted the story to a class of health students.
“Together Sara and Chance performed continuous compressions,” Ruiz said. “Our crew got there and took over and we began to transport Mr. Wise. We were so successful that on route, Jim was conscious, awake and talking. Because of the efforts of Chance and Sara, Mr. Wise is alive today.”
Since 2012, Corona and the Tempe Union High School District have been educating students on how to properly administer CPR through a partnership with Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital.
Buddecke was one of the many students who learned CPR through the program. At the Corona award presentation, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell praised the program’s success as the city works to educate and improve survival rates.
“One of the city’s goals is to improve the survival rate for cardiac arrest; another is to support our Tempe schools and the educational opportunities they provide for all of you guys and the rest of your students here at Corona and throughout the district,” Mitchell said.
“By partnering with Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital and first responders we have been able to teach lifesaving skills to 22,000-plus Tempe Union High School District students. All it takes is for one of you guys to make a difference, which is why we are here today.”
Mitchell, Ruiz and Assistant FireChief Andrea Glass presented the awards to Buddecke and Sara Wise, honoring their work in helping to save the life of another.
Each received a framed certificate inscribed with “Citizen Life Saving award: Be it known to all the City of Tempe, Fire Medical Rescue Department recognizes this and honors Chance Buddecke/Sara Wise for his/her willingness and courage in performing continuous compression resuscitation. He/she utilized his/her training on August 18, 2018 to restore recirculation and life to another….
St. Luke’s Hospital interim administrator Joe Howell is pleased with the program and had a special gift for Buddecke to honor his efforts: a visit from the Phoenix Suns gorilla Go and a custom jersey.
“I was very, very impressed when I came to town and learned about how the hospital, the city and the fire department had partnered to do this program,” Howell said. “It’s all about saving lives. So, Chance, thank you so much for what you have done.”
After the accolades, Sara reminded those in attendance of the importance of CPR.
“You never expect you’re going to need to use this technique, I never did for sure, but you just jump into action,” Sara Wise said. “It’s kind of scary because your adrenaline is going but you just gotta do it, you gotta move, keep your skills up, remember what you learned and then it will fall into place… you can all do it, just be aware of what is going on.”
Buddecke agreed with Wise but emphasized, “You have to remember to calm down, assess the situation and see what you need to do.”
As for Jim Wise, he laughed along with the comments but had an important reminder for those listening.
“They broke my ribs—they broke a lot of my ribs,” he said. “But I learned if you don’t break people’s ribs, you’re not doing it hard enough. You got to hear ribs cracking.”
To help expand CPR education, the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department’s Community Risk Reduction division has started offering free, public classes in CPR techniques.
Future class information is available by signing up for Fire News.