By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
A Cookeville nonprofit agency donated an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the Cumberland County Justice Center after members learned of a county employee who nearly lost his life at an office Thanksgiving dinner celebration.
Cumberland County Judicial Commissioner Ronny Marquess was stricken with a heart attack as a group celebrated Thanksgiving with a work dinner at the Justice Center in the conference room near Cumberland County Circuit Court Clerk Larry Sherrill's office.
"He collapsed right there in the room and we all were in shock," Sherrill said.
E-911 was called and paramedics were dispatched from just a few doors down.
Corporal Bill Ashley with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department was there and immediately began performing CPR on Marquess, who was not breathing.
"We were in the right place at the right time and I'm just glad he's still here," Ashley said.
Scott Davis, a deputy with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department continued CPR along with Ashley until first responders and the paramedics arrived on the scene.
Cumberland County EMS transported Marquess to Cumberland Medical Center and he was transferred to Cookeville Regional Medical Center where he underwent heart surgery.
"I don't remember any of it, but I sure am thankful they were here and knew what to do," Marquess said.
"I'm glad he's here. He honestly wouldn't have been here today without these guys and the help of all who were involved," said Crossville Fire Chief Mike Turner.
Afterwards, while at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, the Cookeville Chapter 127 of Mended Hearts, Inc. learned of the incident.
Mended Hearts, Inc. is a volunteer support group consisting of recovered heart disease patients. When a patient is having heart bypass surgery at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, someone from Mended Hearts will visit with the family before the patient is released.
Mended Hearts recently expanded their services by donating AED defibrillator devices and mannequins to teach CPR to high schools in the Upper Cumberland Region.
Pharoah Smithers of Mended Hearts said, "Each county will be teaching all students how to perform CPR and how to operate an AED. When we heard there was no defibrillator in the Justice Center we decided it was the perfect location for one."
To date, 90 AEDs have been presented to churches, schools, sheriff's departments and police departments in the Upper Cumberland area.
Smithers said Chapter 127 also has a satellite club in Jamestown that started in 2008.
"We're glad we can offer this service. Our motto is 'It's great to be alive and help others,'" Smithers said.
Sherill said the AED will be mounted on the main floor of the Justice Center lobby outside the courtrooms and offices.
The Mended Hearts group came last week and made the donation and Marquess was able to be at the presentation and thank all those who helped save his live.