Emilie Couse, Samantha Rousell, William Wood, Erin Herrick, and Brian Ellis

Immediate CPR can mean the difference between life and death. It did for William Wood, whose life was saved by four Heartsaver Heroes. The American Heart Association honored the group during a special presentation on Monday.

 William Wood, 57, collapsed in July while shopping at the Wegmans on Clemens Center Parkway in Elmira. When his heart stopped, he happened to be talking to Emilie Couse, a store employee who is also nursing student. Couse immediately got the store’s automated external defibrillator and shocked Wood’s heart twice, trying to restart a normal heart rhythm. Another store employee, Samantha Rousell performed CPR. Store security officer Brian Ellis helped secure and coordinate the area and Erin Herrick, an off-duty nurse from Robert Packer Hospital, assisted with CPR and AED use.

 Wood was eventually stabilized at the hospital. Doctors told him his heart stopped because of a potentially lethal arrhythmia. They implanted a defibrillator in his chest to help prevent the incident from happening again.

 Couse, Ellis, Harrick and Rousell were all presented with Heartsaver Hero Awards Monday evening. Heartsaver Hero Awards honor bystanders who take action to save sudden cardiac arrest victims.

 “The quick and courageous actions of this group saved my life and I will never be able to repay them,” Wood said. “They truly are my heroes.”

 Each year, more than 350,000 patients in the U.S. suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital. Cardiac arrest is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat and disrupts the flow of blood to the brain and other organs. About 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

 Hands-Only CPR is easy to learn and easy to do. It can be performed in two steps. If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse: 1) Call 911 and 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives. You can learn more and watch a demo video at www.heart.org/handsonlycpr