In the weeks after veteran Dale Bock collapsed during the Memorial Day ceremony in Cutler Park, his family stayed in contact with the woman who immediately gave him CPR and didn’t give up until the Waukesha Fire Department could take over with a defibrillator and emergency drugs.
On Tuesday, the woman, Sherri Stigler, who is the training and operations manager for Waukesha County Communication, received the highest award the Waukesha Police Department gives a civilian. When receiving the Citizen Service Award, from Police Chief Russell Jack, Stigler received an even greater reward – a hug.
Bock, who went through bypass surgery, is walking around and suffered no brain damage despite not breathing for five minutes, walked up to Stigler with a big bouquet of flowers and hugged the woman who did what was needed to help save his life.
“The hug that I got from him – it was just a feeling I can’t even describe,” Stigler said. “It meant so much to me that there is an actually person here and the efforts made a difference.”
Stigler, who teaches CPR, is a trainer in the county’s dispatch center. Closure is something dispatchers sometimes struggle with because they walk people through emergencies but never hear from them again.
That’s why that hug meant so much to Stigler, who was at the Memorial Day ceremony with her husband, Deputy Police Chief Mark Stigler, the event’s main speaker.
“Even in the dispatch environment, you don’t ever get to see the fruits of your labor. That is really tough for dispatchers,” she said. “… It is really tough because we talk these people through things and then we never hear back. It is in hard to not have closure.”
Stigler said after the meeting, she spoke with Bock and his family in the hallway, where he joked that she must be strong because she cracked his ribs during CPR.
“I said 'Sorry for kissing you without your wife’s consent,'” Stigler said about joking with Bock about the mouth-to-mouth she performed.
While it means a lot for Stigler to have met with Bock after helping to save his life, Stigler said she knows the save means a lot for the Waukesha Fire Department personnel who rushed to the scene to continue the life saving actions. Bock’s heart started after a second shock with the defibrillator.
“I know that the ones that were working on him were really excited about the save,” she said.
“I am so grateful to have been able to serve as a link in the chain of survival, but this was truly a team effort,” Stigler said. “I just want to acknowledge the response and amazing abilities of the fire department personnel.”
Importance of Learning CPR
Bock’s wife and daughter asked Stigler about what they should do if Bock were to collapse again. Stigler plans on training them in CPR and urges the community to learn CPR to help save people’s lives.
While some people may be intimidated by CPR, Stigler has been able to teach it to young Girl Scouts and people living in senior living arrangements.
“I think people worry is a difficult skill to learn,” said Stigler. “…. Basically it is pump hard, pump fast and keep going until help gets there.”
Many places in the community offer CPR, such as area medical facilities, Waukesha County Technical College, the Red Cross and the American Heart Association, Stigler said.
And those intimidated about the mouth-to-mouth part of the rescue don’t have to fear. Instructors have changed their approach to teaching that the chest compressions are the most important part of CPR.
“This should serve as a reminder to everyone that early intervention with CPR can and does make a difference, and so I would strongly encourage everyone who is able to learn the skills associated with CPR,” Stigler said. “It’s a simple skill with powerful results.”
As for Stigler being at the right place at the right time?
“It was an honor as a citizen to give something back to a veteran who has sacrificed so much for us,” she said.