From Teller to Hero

Published 12:54 pm Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hillary Gunn has been a bank teller for five years. She recently helped save a man’s life. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Hillary Gunn has been a bank teller for five years. She recently helped save a man’s life. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—When Hillary Gunn went into work one recent morning, she never expected to add lifesaver to her resumé.

A client came into Bronco Federal Credit Union, where Gunn works, and she could tell right away that something seemed off, so she kept an eye on him.

When he got to her window, he was out of breath and breathing hard, so she asked if he wanted to sit down while she finished the transaction. When he agreed, Gunn’s coworker, Katrina Manley, went out to help the man to a place to sit.

After taking three steps, the man collapsed. Gunn called 911, while Manley noticed that he wasn’t breathing and asked if anyone knew CPR.

“I was thinking that I wish the EMT would hurry up,” said Manley. “I usually freeze, but I was thinking that I’ve got to do something.”

It turns out, that Gunn not only knew CPR, but she was certified.

“After two rounds of compressions, he was breathing again,” said Gunn. “I can still see him. It scared me so bad — he was literally turning blue, and I had never seen that before.

“I was so worried that we would not be able to bring him back.”

She was also worried that if she froze up, the EMT would not arrive in time to save him, so she knew she had to do something.

“I just put myself aside,” Gunn said. “I went through it like you would read it in a textbook. Five compressions, one breath. I saw that it is not working, so I try 10 compressions and 2 breaths. I deal better with mechanics than I do with emotions.”

She said it not only helped him, that it did change her too.

“Since then, my observation of people has increased 10-fold,” Gunn said. “I’ve always been observant, but now it’s on a whole new level.”

She knew what to do because she had received training in CPR — her first class coming when she was 8.

“It was not a matter of wanting to go, but my family was going,” she said. “My mom and dad had always told me that if the knowledge was made available, you should take advantage of it.

“You always hope that you don’t have to use it, but it is better to know it and not use it because you never know when you might need it.”

She said that Bronco also had a big class three years ago, and one offsite more recently.

Pam Vaughan, HR manager, said that is good to have someone at each office with CPR knowledge, just in case. She also said she was proud of Gunn for what she did.

“To have someone like Hillary, who knows exactly what to do in that situation, is a good thing,” she said. “I think she did exactly what she needed to do.”

Manley said she was also proud of Gunn.

“It was awesome,” she said. “She stepped in like a pro and started performing CPR. It feels awesome to be able to help someone, though Hillary did it all.”

Gunn said that anyone who is offered the opportunity to take a CPR class should.

“Anyone offered a chance to take a CPR or emergency rescue class, even the basics, should,” she said. “You never know when you might could save someone’s live, maybe a loved one or even a complete stranger.”

The identity of the man has been kept private.

At the end of the day, Gunn said she was just happy to have helped someone out.

“I’ve thought about it over and over since then,” she said. “I was just very happy that what I did helped him get through what he was going through.

“I never expected to do something like that when I came into work. In fact, I almost didn’t come in that day. I was not feeling well. But, I was there by fate or whatever label you want to put on it.”