While he remains in critical condition in a Columbus hospital following a severe heart attack, the quick actions of emergency responders have helped give Delaware County Treasurer Jon Peterson a fighting chance.
At the direction of a Delaware County 911 dispatcher, Melissa Peterson administered CPR to her husband on Wednesday morning while he laid on the floor of the Petersons’ Hillside Drive home.
Mrs. Peterson called 911 around 10 a.m. to say her husband wasn’t breathing. After sending paramedics, the dispatcher told her to lay him flat on his back and check his mouth to make sure his airway was clear. The dispatcher then calmly talked her through giving Peterson chest compressions twice a second — a technique that helps keep blood circulating in the body — until paramedics arrived, CPR can help prevent brain damage from oxygen loss during cardiac arrest.
Delaware police and paramedics responded in about six minutes. The police officer used a defibrillator to re-start Peterson’s heart, and paramedics later did so a second time.
Delaware County 911 dispatchers are required to maintain CPR certification so they instruct people during a medical emergency, said Delaware County 911 Director Bob Greenlaw. Delaware County’s dispatchers have for the last three years received medical training through a national program, and are under the supervision of a physician from Grady Memorial Hospital.
Dispatchers are also pre-screened for psychological makeup to ensure they can stay calm in stressful situations. Maintaining circulation and rapid defibrillation “can be two things that make these cases come out better,” Greenlaw said.
“Anyone who goes through cardiac arrest like that, it’s a shock to their system,” Greenlaw said. “Some years ago it would have been a done deal. But everything went as well as it could here.”
Peterson was transported to Grady before he was sent to Grant Memorial Hospital in Columbus. He remains at Grant in intensive care as family members and doctors consider medical options. He is said to be in stable condition, although family members were not available to comment. A hospital spokeswoman said he is in critical condition, but medical privacy laws forbid her from saying anything else.
Peterson’s political career began when he was appointed (after he was elected the previous November) Delaware County auditor in 1991. A Republican, he was appointed state representative in 1999, and after he was term-limited, he was elected county treasurer in 2008.
Peterson, a recent seminarian, is also pastor of Zion United Church of Christ, located at 51 W. Central Ave. in Delaware.
Peterson is not accepting visitors, according to a message from Zion United Church of Christ sent to county employees Thursday. However, well-wishers can send cards. The Petersons are also in need of prayers, the message said.