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Wheeling woman honored for saving neighbor’s life

Wheeling woman honored for saving neighbor’s life

Wheeling Fire Chief Scott Salela, right, hands a Citizen Life Saving Award to Margarett Neilson on Monday night. She helped rescue a neighbor experiencing cardiac arrest.
Russell Lissau

A Wheeling woman who helped rescue a neighbor experiencing a cardiac emergency was publicly honored Monday night.

Margarett Neilson received a Citizen Life Saving Award from Fire Chief Scott Salela during the evening’s village board meeting.

On May 5, Neilson and neighbor Oscar Mendoza had stopped to chat while mowing their respective lawns on Virginia Place when Mendoza grabbed his chest and collapsed, Salela said. Neilson ran to her home and told her father to call 911, and then she ran to Mendoza’s house and told his family to do the same.

Neilson then raced back to Mendoza and started CPR compressions while his wife breathed air into his lungs, she said.

“I didn’t hesitate,” said Neilson, who learned CPR as a child.

Police officers and firefighter-paramedics arrived in about four minutes and took over. Mendoza wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse, Salela said, so they shocked his heart with a defibrillator to restart a good rhythm.

Mendoza was taken to Endeavor Health Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview. He was released May 10 and has made a full recovery, Salela said.

Neilson has spoken with Mendoza since the emergency, and he’s thanked her for her actions, she said.

“This is what it is to be neighborly,” Neilson said. “I’m grateful that I was there.”

Salela said he hopes Neilson’s actions and the award will inspire people to learn CPR and other lifesaving techniques, including how to use automated external defibrillators.

The Wheeling Fire Department offers monthly CPR classes that include defibrillator instruction. The department also can schedule classes for groups.

Classes cost $20 or $25 per person and are held at the main fire station, 499 S. Milwaukee Ave. For more information on such programs, visit wheelingil.gov/264/Fire-Department or email [email protected].