Updated after print deadline
Rescuer being too tired for CPR didn’t cause death
A 32-year-old Florence woman was pronounced dead Saturday night after a caller became too tired to continue chest compressions while waiting 12 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
However, coroner Don Hodson said Thursday, discontinuation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation played no role in her death.
Rigor mortis already had begun setting in. In a death report obtained Thursday, Hodson estimated that the woman, Chelsie Rains, had died at least five hours before an ambulance arrived, after being treated earlier in by St. Luke Hospital’s emergency room for vomiting.
Two weeks before that, she’d been at St. Luke with chest pain and was taken to NMC Health in Newton for tests that indicated cardiac blockage that she reportedly was told could be treated with medication. She had no history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
Hodson reported her death was likely due to sudden cardiac death, but an autopsy has been ordered.
Rains had only recently started working as a dispatcher for the Marion County sheriff’s office.
Marion and Hillsboro ambulances were dispatched to the residence at 10:10 p.m. Saturday.
A Hillsboro ambulance attendant asked whether first responders from Florence also had been dispatched, but no dispatch to them was made. Nor was any dispatch made to Florence firefighters.
Three minutes after the ambulances were called, a dispatcher informed ambulance attendants that a fellow dispatcher was instructing a man who called in the emergency in how to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Undersheriff Larry Starkey said Rains’s boyfriend found her unresponsive in the home.
The boyfriend initially tried to perform CPR while Rains still was in bed, Hodson said, but CPR on a bed is not effective. The boyfriend’s father took over and attempted CPR on the floor, where it would be more effective.
In situations involving CPR, firefighters and first responders typically are called in addition to ambulance crews because administering CPR is strenuous and emergency workers cannot administer it for long periods.
After four minutes of administering CPR, the father and son were ready to give up.
“Our RP (reporting party) is getting too tired and is wanting to stop compressions,” dispatchers told ambulance attendants en route to the residence.
A Marion attendant replied: “Advise them to do as good a job as they can.”
“10-4,” a dispatcher responded. “That’s what my partner is doing.”
Four minutes later, however, the dispatcher radioed: “Our RP is refusing to keep going. He is too tired.”
The situation changed a minute after that.
“My partner was able to get him to restart compressions,” the dispatcher radioed.
It was four more minutes before Marion ambulance arrived.
Four minutes after that, an ambulance attendant reported that Rains wasn’t breathing.
Another four minutes elapsed before the attendant pronounced her dead.
Hodson said Rains’ autopsy would be conducted by a forensics laboratory in Kansas City.
“We won’t know for a while,” he said. “My best guess is a sudden cardiac arrest.”
Starkey said no foul play was involved.
“Unfortunately, these things happen, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2022