Porter County Sheriff's Office

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Heroes Honored

Thank you for saving lives Heroes honored for saving little Chandler Aponte and seven others last year with CPR or defibrillation.

Several 911 dispatchers were recently honored at the second annual Heartsaver Day at Valparaiso's Inn at Aberdeen. Dispatchers Lisa Miller, Paula Aylea, Kelly Wilkerson, Kathy Gregory, Rhonda Mercaldo and Christine Sears received awards for their roles in the successful resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims. All Porter County Dispatchers are EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch) certified and provide CPR and other pre-arrival instructions over the phone. Congratulations to these dispatchers for jobs well done!

BY KEN KOSKY Times Staff Writer
Roland Otte let his grandson out of his sight for only a moment, but that was enough time for the toddler to escape from Otte's rural Porter County home and fall into the swimming pool.  Otte yelled for the contractors who were at his home to call 911 while he jumped in the pool and pulled the boy out.  "He was blue," Otte said. "He wasn't breathing.  "I just started doing CPR. Within about a minute, he started choking, then he started crying."  Otte's grandson, 2-year-old Chandler Aponte, spent the night in the hospital, but suffers no ill effects from that June 13 scare. The active toddler even loves the water.  For his heroics, Otte and several others who saved lives this past year using CPR or defibrillation were honored Tuesday at the second annual Heartsaver Day at Valparaiso's Inn at Aberdeen.  Otte's daughter, Diana Otte, said "I honor him every day for saving my son."  Diana Otte said she can't picture her life without the dark-haired little Chandler.  "He's definitely the light of my life," she said, adding that the boy and his grandpa are best friends.  The boy was at Tuesday's ceremony to watch Otte get his life-saving award.  "The honor is nice," Otte said.  "What's more important is if this gets in the news and maybe more people get CPR certified. ... I learned CPR 14 years ago with the National Ski Patrol and re-certify every year (with the Sheriff's Department reserves). Because of that, I really didn't have to stop and think about what I was going to do."  Then, looking at his grandson, Otte said, "The biggest reward is having this guy around.  "Many of the lifesavers and the people they saved sat together at Tuesday's ceremony, including cardiac arrest survivor Michael Potis and the police, firefighters and medics who saved him.  "The speed with which they responded was miraculous," Potis said.  "Without them, I wouldn't be here right now. "Valparaiso Police Officer Michelle Wilson, one of six emergency responders involved in the rescue, added, "It feels great. I was surprised when I saw him (doing so well) four or six weeks later. "Wilson was also honored for her role in saving the life of a woman at Round the Clock Restaurant in Valparaiso. Valparaiso Police Sgt. Perry Stone, who was also honored for that call, said being thanked for saving a life reminds him why he does his job. "There's not a lot of thank-yous. You get out and serve your community and you don't expect people to say thank you. It (Tuesday's honor) is nice, but it's not expected," Stone said.  Dr. John Johnson said the American Heart Association has Heartsaver Day to recognize those in the emergency field who put in the extra effort. He hopes it energizes emergency responders to continue putting in the extra effort. And he hopes it makes members of the public aware of the benefits of learning CPR.  Diana Otte said she always felt good knowing that her father knew CPR.  "I always felt safe with my dad watching him (Chandler). I knew he knew CPR. We were hoping he'd never have to use it.  "Now, with the lesson having been learned that it could happen to anyone, Diana Otte said she wants to be the next member of the family to learn the valuable skill.
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