Fire chief performs CPR after man collapses at meeting

The man was speaking at the meeting when he collapsed; the fire chief and a city councilwoman administered CPR and then used an AED to revive the man before paramedics arrived

By Allison Petty
Herald & Review

DECATUR, Ill. — Quick response by several city officials likely saved the life of a man who collapsed while addressing the Decatur City Council on Monday.

Russell Shulke, a frequent attendee of council and other civic meetings, regularly reads prepared remarks and historical commentary on agenda items during the time designated for appearance of citizens. He was speaking about the Decatur Public Library on Monday when he trailed off, gripped the podium, wavered and fell backward.

Fire Chief Jeff Abbott, seated in the first row of the audience, caught Shulke before he hit the floor. City Manager Tim Gleason; Interim Police Chief Jim Getz; Councilwoman Dana Ray, who is a physician; and several other city personnel rushed to assess Shulke's vital signs and offer aid.

Abbott and Ray administered CPR, then used an automated external defibrillator to revive Shulke.

The larger-than-usual crowd for the council meeting gasped when Shulke fell, then sat in stunned silence for a few minutes before being asked to leave the chambers.

Decatur Fire Department personnel arrived within minutes and took over lifesaving efforts, followed by paramedics from Decatur Ambulance Service, who transported Shulke from the Decatur Civic Center to the hospital.

Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe told the audience that Shulke was conscious when taken from the building. “We will hope for the best for him,” she said.

Gleason said he could tell when Shulke was speaking that he was not feeling good. He credited the response by Abbott and Ray with saving Shulke's life.

“I'm sure that he suffered cardiac arrest at one point. We were not getting vitals,” said Gleason, who is a former police officer. “Quick response on the part of Chief Jeff Abbott and Dr. Dana Ray. They resuscitated him, and the last word we have is that he's doing well in (the intensive care unit).”

The entire incident took place in less than half an hour. The council meeting proceeded normally afterward.

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