Gift of life given to longtime Kool Stop employee

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: GERT ZOUTENDIJK - Kool Stop was recognized for its dedication to CPR training on Feb. 19. From the left are Randy Smith, Aleksander Ovanesyants, Tim Watson and Kool Stop owner Richard Everett.When it comes to saving a life, timing can mean everything.

But nothing beats good preparation.

Kool Stop, a maker of bicycle products in Lake Oswego, found that out in January when having the right training and equipment saved the life of longtime employee Aleksander Ovanesyants.

On Feb. 19, Kool Stop workers, including Ovanesyants, got together with the Lake Oswego Fire Department for handshakes, smiles, congratulations and giving certificates. Everyone could celebrate because of the successful conclusion to a perilous situation.

This happy scene happened because of a wise decision by Kool Stop Vice President Tim Watson. In August he decided to have CPR taught to all of his employees.

“We trained all employees in August because we thought it was a good thing to know,” Watson said. “But we never imagined we would have to use our skills so soon.”

Watson did something else smart, too. Last Christmas he purchased an AED (automated external defibrillator) as a gift for his employees. Some gift.

Jan. 20 was a normal day at Kool Stop until Ovanesyants was found lying on the floor, not breathing and with no pulse. Watson and employee Randy Smith immediately jumped into action and started CPR. But the AED showed that Ovanesyants’ heart was not working at all. Ovanesyants’ chances of survival seemed to be very poor.

“When I walked in the door I had real concerns that we would not be able to bring Aleksander back,” said LOFD Battalion Chief Jim Doane. “Having what we call a flat line when we get there are not good odds of survival.”

Suddenly, Ovanesyants was able to breathe on his own and move around a bit. He was taken to a hospital, where it was discovered he had suffered a kidney attack, and he was discharged just a few days later. For a while, however, a lot of people were worried about Ovanesyants, especially his family.

“My dad is a strong, tough former Navy guy,” said Ovanesyants’ daughter, Inna. “Whatever happens he keeps on pushing. Ten years ago he came out of a car wreck without an injury and later he survived a work injury. My mom says he has a guardian angel.”

Ovanesyants needed all of the help he could get when he was taken to the hospital.

“He doesn’t remember anything except he was sitting there lightheaded,” Inna said. “He woke up three days later and asked, ‘What am I doing here?’

“When he was brought into the emergency room, I was so scared, and I’m usually so calm.”

Two weeks after the kidney attack, Ovanesyants went back to work, and now he is doing “a lot, lot better.” So is everyone else.

“Our reaction is to be very, very thankful,” Inna said. “We’re happy all of the guys at work had the CPR training and we’re glad they had the medical unit.”

At the Feb. 19 gathering, the Kool Stop workers were recognized by the LOFD for their exemplary dedication to learning CPR. At the presentation, Marina, Ovanesyants’ wife, recalled telling her husband that all of the CPR training was probably not necessary.

“I was so wrong and want everyone to learn CPR,” Marina Ovanesyants said.

Gert Zoutendijk, Lake Oswego fire marshal, noted that the gift of life for Aleksander Ovanesyants was another reason why Lake Oswego has such outstanding record in survival rates for people going into the hospital after emergency calls. LO’s survival rate is 28 percent, while the national average is 6 percent.

“A lot of this high percentage is because of early recognition and use of CPR,” Zoutendijk said.

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