Officers honored for swift, life-saving response to medical emergency

A group of University employees attending CPR training took a break from class on Dec. 14 to witness firsthand the importance of certification. In a ceremony held on the University Park campus, Penn State Police Officer Michelle Beckenbaugh and Deputy Sheriff Richard Smith of the Centre County Sheriff's Department were honored for their quick, life-saving response in a medical emergency.

On Nov. 8, Crisoforo Sandoval, an employee with Penn State Hospitality Services, went into cardiac arrest while transporting two guests from the University Park Airport to the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. The passengers were able to stop the car and called 911.

Beckenbaugh was first on the scene. She noticed Sandoval was not responding, called for backup and immediately put her first aid skills into action. Smith arrived soon after and the two officers administered CPR using chest compressions and an automated external defibrillator. The quick response and proper care kept Sandoval, who at one point had no pulse, alive.

"The training is always in the back of your mind and ready to be used," Beckenbaugh said. "It works. And to be able to see Chris stand here today, it's definitely worth it."

During the ceremony, Beckenbaugh and Smith each were awarded a certificate and a University Police department coin honoring their quick action. About 40 people were in attendance, including Sandoval's family, friends and colleagues, and University Police officers.

University Police Chief Tyrone Parham said Beckenbaugh and Smith's decisive actions and their cool, calm and collected demeanor in those first few moments were critical to Sandoval's survival.

"We've all done the training, some of us for 20 years," he said, "and it's circumstances such as this that remind us how important it is."

After the incident, Sandoval was placed into a medically induced coma and flown to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., where he was treated and recovered. Sandoval said he will be forever grateful to the officers who helped to save his life. He said he plans to earn CPR certification himself in the near future, and suggested that everyone who has the opportunity to earn certification should do so.

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Last Updated January 09, 2012