Many AEP employees have taken CPR training and IBEW Local Union 1466 Business Manager Rod Cockrell began taking it in 2002, right about the time he joined the Chillicothe Line Department and his daughter, Phoebe, was born.

Sixteen years later, this training may have saved her life.

For the past few months, Phoebe has been experiencing unexplained health issues. She’ll occasionally break out into hives on her neck and chest and will have trouble breathing. She has been carrying an EpiPen as a precautionary measure; in one serious incident, she was administered the pen at her high school and rushed to the emergency room after she displayed alarming symptoms.

Doctors have been running tests on Phoebe to determine what might be going on. In early December, Rod and his wife had taken her to the hospital for another round of examinations. Phoebe wasn’t feeling well that day – she can often sense when the hives are coming, her dad says – but she said she was OK to stay home in bed that afternoon.

When Rod arrived home from work at 5:30 p.m. he heard coughing upstairs … followed by a loud thump. He rushed upstairs to find Phoebe on the ground and not breathing. Unable to find her EpiPen, Rod immediately began administering CPR using the technique he had been taught – three rescue breaths every minute or so – and shot her with an EpiPen as soon as he had located one.

Rod lives in rural Massieville, Ohio (roughly seven miles south of Chillicothe) so it took some time for emergency medical personnel to arrive … 20 agonizing minutes.

“It was the scariest thing I ever went through in my entire life,” Rod says. “I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s your baby. You never want to see your kids go before you do. And I have no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t been there she just would have laid there.”

Rod says he never expected to have to use his CPR training; however, the repeated training sessions burned the instructions into his memory. He didn’t have to think when he needed to act fast.

“Because I had that training, I knew what to do,” Rod says. “It was like second nature. And in a situation like that, when it’s your kid, it’s very intense. Be glad it’s second nature.”

Phoebe didn’t truly relax her breathing until she was at the hospital and given additional care. Doctors still haven’t identified the cause of her issues but they’re continuing to administer a battery of tests and are hopeful that an answer is close. In the meantime, Rod is grateful that his daughter is alive and also that his training helped keep her safe.

“Did that training save her life? Yes absolutely,” he says. “I should hope no one ever has to use it, especially on their own child. But take the training serious. You never know when your mother, father, co-worker or wife might need it.”

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