The Collegian
Friday, September 29, 2023

Ayers honors students who used CPR to save woman last semester

A ceremony was held at the University of Richmond's Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness last night to honor the people who worked together to save a local woman's life when she collapsed during a Pilates class last semester.

Susan Gilmore greeted and hugged each of the 21 people who played a role in her rescue on Sept. 26, when she collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest.

"I am glad to be able to thank them and award them for their bravery at a time when I could not help myself," Gilmore said.

Gilmore was joined by her husband, Ron; her son, Andrew, 13; her daughter, Sallie, 9; and her mother, Joan, who also greeted and thanked each person.

Later during the ceremony, President Edward L. Ayers awarded the students and staff who administered CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to help restore Gilmore's heartbeat with a Presidential Citation Award, the highest award that the president can give.

"This happened within my first real month as president," Ayers said. "It was the first glimpse of the depth of caring and commitment on campus. It was a very early lesson on what kind of place we are."

Seniors Josh Anderson, Taylor Yates and Jordan Braniff were the three Richmond students that Ayers honored.

Anderson, a student employee, was not sure what to expect from the ceremony, but looked forward to meeting Gilmore for the first time since he administered CPR soon after she collapsed, he said.

"I think about that day when I walk by the room that it happened," Anderson said. "It was weird because we had just been trained in CPR, and I never thought that I would have to use it on someone."

As a member of Spider Advanced Volunteer Emergency Rescue Service, the university's on-campus volunteer rescue squad, Yates had experience in rescue situations, but this was his first cardiac arrest rescue.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

"It definitely helped us realize the impact we have on campus," Yates said. "The campus is divided along county lines, and it would have taken a while for an EMT squad to arrive. It was crucial to her life for someone to begin CPR within two minutes of her collapse that was quickly followed by the use of an AED machine in that situation."

Gilmore said she hoped this ceremony would help raise awareness about women and heart disease and automated external defibrillators.

"I want to make sure that public facilities have defibrillators," she said. "I hear that they are not difficult to use because they talk to you during the process."

As a mother, wife and daughter, Gilmore said she was grateful for the automated external defibrillator and the immediate response by Richmond students and staff that saved her life.

"Things happen for a reason or reasons," Ron Gilmore said, recalling one of his grandmother's sayings. He then pointed to the people who saved his wife's life: "Those are the reasons"

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now