Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Radio co-hosts springs into action to help save guest
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — A tragedy that struck the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on July 25, 2006 may have saved a life on December 5, 2018.
On that summer day, 12 years ago, a MCN employee suffered a heart attack at work and passed away.
MCN Emergency Management supervisor James Nichols, was on the job that day and couldn’t escape a troubling realization later that evening as he processed the tragedy.
“There were a lot of people around this employee that didn’t know what to do that day,” Nichols recalled. “It weighed on me that there was no official CPR training for the tribe’s employees.”
That all changed the next day.
Nichols went to then-Principal Chief A.D. Ellis’ office with an idea and received approval to begin CPR certification classes for employees that continue to this day.
Mvskoke Media reporter Darren DeLaune is a bit of a jack-of-all trades. He’s a former professional boxer, college basketball player, Bachata dance instructor…. you name it and he likes to try it.
So it was only a matter of time before he signed up for Nichols’ employee-volunteer Emergency Response Team, the ‘Windrunners.’
The Windrunners are trained in several aspects of emergency response; swift water rescue, fire safety, recovery efforts and, of course, CPR.
In addition to his other titles, DeLaune is also co-host along with Gary Fife of Mvskoke Radio, the weekly program from Mvskoke Media that emanates from downtown Okmulgee’s FM station, The Brew.
DeLaune never imagined that his duties as Mvskoke Radio host would intersect with his emergency response training, until it did on Dec. 5.
That morning Fife and DeLaune were producing their show, when suddenly everything changed.
“We were just coming back from our first break,” DeLaune recalled. “And our guest that we were interviewing said that they felt dizzy.”
DeLaune immediately began to tend to the individual while Fife was now back on the air, not quite sure how to proceed with a live show while something was obviously wrong with their guest.
“Over 40 years in radio, and I had never experienced anything like this,” Fife said. “On one hand, you have a situation here that you’re monitoring but at the same time you have to have some kind of content running. The look on Darren’s face told me that we had a serious situation.”
DeLaune began to speak to the individual but was not receiving any response. Station owner Brooks Brewer was alerted to the issue and notified the police department, which thankfully is right next to the station and an ambulance was called.
“When Brooks came in, I checked on the individual again and his eyes were open but now he wasn’t breathing, his heart had stopped,” DeLaune said.
They checked for a pulse and any air, but still nothing. DeLaune immediately began chest compressions.
During the chest compressions, the individual started to revive.
“You could hear him start exhaling…exhaling,” DeLaune said. “From then on, he was still dizzy but I just kept talking to him trying to keep him alert until the ambulance got there.”
DeLaune started asking the individual questions about their family and about being a pastor.
“I asked what’s your favorite Bible verse and the reply was John 14:1 ‘Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me,’ ” DeLaune said. “He started saying it and got a little out of breath so I finished it for him. I remember that part pretty well.”
After the ambulance arrived, the individual was loaded up and taken to receive medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery.
“I have no hesitance in saying that Darren’s quick response and actions saved this person’s life,” Fife said.
Nichols agrees and is so thankful when instances arise that call for CPR skills, that employees now have the opportunity to be in position to utilize their training.
“It’s about giving someone that chance to survive, until medical professionals can get to them,” Nichols said. “Everybody needs to have that skill.”
Nichols continues to teach CPR certification and re-certification every two years to MCN employees and departments on a per-request basis.
“I’d say the majority of our employees have had it,” Nichols said. “Definitely call the office and put the request in if your department would like to have this, we can get it done in about four hours.”
MCN employees can contact MCN Emergency Management at (918) 732-7795.
Ironically this is not the only incidence that DeLaune had a chance to use his training.
In 2011, he drove up on a house fire where individuals outside informed him that their grandfather was still inside.
DeLaune entered the blazing house and pulled him out and began CPR. Unfortunately, the gentleman had inhaled too much smoke and passed away.
Sometimes we are put in positions to make a difference, to try and save a life. One instant might be successful, while another is not.
When asked if he felt a sense of redemption or felt like a hero for springing into action on Dec. 5, he was simply demure.
“Honestly I just reacted to what was happening, in both instances,” DeLaune said. “I hope anybody else would do the same. I don’t feel like a hero as much as I feel lucky that I was there at the right time when somebody needed it.”