It happened in the early evening hours of June 23. According to Deputy Chad Hennis he and his girlfriend, Julie Stahla, decided to go out for some sweet tea. They were traveling in her vehicle when traffic stalled.
They observed a middle aged man in the middle of the road who had apparently collapsed while riding his bicycle. True to form, the two pulled over and approached on foot, to see if they could help.
Hennis and Strahla, a 20- year veteran nurse, did a quick assessment of the unconscious victim, 45-year-old Michael Ayala. The victim was not breathing, and he had no pulse. Strahla performed CPR, while Hennis hurried to Strahla’s nearby home to retrieve the AED (Automated External Defibrillator) from his squad car.
The two administered the AED, and within seconds of the shock, Ayala’s pulse returned, and he started choking and gasping for air. (It is believed that Ayala was clinically dead when Strahla and Hennis arrived on the scene.)
Hennis and Strahla were honored on Tuesday, July 30, by the Academy of Cardiac Science, the company that supplied the AED to the Sheriff’s Office. Strahla was unable to attend the ceremony, but she, too, was recognized for the vital role she played in saving Ayala’s life.
The couple do not consider themselves heroes; they are just thankful that they happened to be at the right place at the right time.
To Michael Ayala, they are both heroes. He does not remember the day he died, but he remembers Strahla and Hennis as the “angels” that saved his life with their quick thinking and swift action.
“God was with us,” Ayala said. “I am here today, because they didn’t give up on me.”
Deputy Hennis has served in law enforcement for 15 years. Strahla is a unit manager at Providence Health Care.
Vermillion County Sheriff’s Office started issuing AED’s to each unit after one of its deputies suffered a heart attack.
Learn more here.