Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Cross presents Lifesaver Awards at VillaSport Athletic Club in Colorado Springs

Story and Photos by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross

Jim Ungarvsky, a member of the VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa in Colorado Springs, will never forget March 5, 2014. On that day he joined several other members in a contest to see how many pushups they could do. Before long, he started having chest pains and within a few minutes collapsed on the floor in cardiac arrest.
Bobby Bernal, Leilani Akiyama, Billy Thompkins
Fortunately for him there were some skilled hands nearby. Billy Thompkins, Bobby Bernal and Leilani Akiyama, trainers at the facility quickly went into action. They immediately checked for breathing and pulse. Finding neither they began CPR and defibrillated the heart using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). “We were a pretty skilled team even without a verbal plan,” Bernal said. “Billy and I began doing CPR and Leilani ran for the AED.” The team of rescuers was in automatic rescue mode as they moved to help Ungarvsky. They didn’t have to speak. They just did what they were trained to do.

Akiyama received her training a little over a year ago while working in Seattle, WA and at the time hoped she would never have to use the lifesaving skill. “When it happened I just went into action,” she said. “I knew what I had to do and just did it.” Looking back on the incident she realizes how important it was to learn the skills in Red Cross training. “You have to be ready and able to act.” She said. “The instructors really emphasized that and it made the difference.”
Leilani Akiyama

All of the trainers and staff at the VillaSport Athletic Club are certified in CPR and First Aid from the Red Cross. “We are so proud of these three heroes,” Said Monica Copelin, aquatic director for the facility. “They stepped up when it was needed the most.”

Ungvarsky has made a complete recovery following the rescue and surgery. He is back at the Club and will be participating in upcoming exercise events. “I am so grateful that these three knew what to do,” he said. “They saved my life and I will never forget that.”

Tom Gonzalez, CEO for the Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter presented the Lifesaver Award to the three rescuers. “This is another example of how important it is for people to get CPR training,” he said. “Having the right skills at the right time truly can mean the difference between life and death.”
The American Red Cross offers a variety of lifesaving skills including CPR, AED, First Aid and Babysitting. To find out more about Red Cross classes and certifications go to
(L-R)Tom Gonzalez, Bobby Bernal, Leilani Akiyama, Billy Thompkons with Jim Ungvarsky

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