The Kindness of Strangers

March 1, 2022

Ronald Rhodes loves to walk his dog. It’s a ritual the Portland resident loves to do every morning. But on November 4, 2021, that favorite morning routine was abruptly interrupted when Rhodes suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

The medical emergency happened at the dog park, not too far from Rhodes’ home and in the presence of two bystanders, who immediately came to his aid. And fortunately for Rhodes, the bystanders, Megan Carpenter and Hillary Bennet, performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him and managed to revive him until a crew with AMR Multnomah County and Portland Fire & Rescue arrived.

The emergency crews were amazed at Carpenter and Bennet’s intervention, which they say kept Rhodes alive so he could get further life-saving treatment.

“It was excellent CPR,” said Field Training Officer, Scott Stafford. "I have never seen this great of an outcome, with neurological functioning, by bystander CPR.” And to make things even more compelling, it eventually became known that Carpenter, a social worker by profession, had just renewed her CPR certification. 

As for Rhodes, he’s progressing well even though his initial recovery was rocky. And while he could have just gone on his merry way, he didn’t. He wanted to personally thank the people who saved his life and champion the cause of raising awareness for CPR training.

On November 28, Rhodes got the opportunity to do both. 

Not only did he and his family meet Carpenter, but they also served as witnesses to the formal nomination of Carpenter and Bennet for the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award. The event also included the participation of paramedics Jack Veenker and Jack Bowman of AMR Medic 315 as well as Stafford, who submitted the statement as the requested professional or bystander in support of Rhodes’ submitted nominations.

Today, Rhodes, who is back at work, back at home and hopefully, back at walking his dog, continues to look for occasions to recognize the “strangers” who became the lifesavers he will never forget.

Story submitted by Lucie Drum, Community Education & Public Information Manager, and Safe Kids Portland Metro Coordinator

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