Pictured above: Mark Heartfield (center) with Keith and Rod Goldstein.
On September 11, 2019 at the annual Lifesavers Recognition Day ceremony at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, Jennifer Hudson, Director of Instruction at Sankaty Head Golf Club, received the Maurice E. Gibbs Commendation Award for providing rapid emergency care to a man who had collapsed and was not breathing at the golf course during the summer of 2019. Hudson ran to the man's side and immediately began chest compressions. Several minutes later the man began to breathe again and regained consciousness.
Hudson was unable to attend the event; Mark Heartfield, Sankaty's Director of Golf, accepted the award on her behalf, and was joined by Lori Snell, Sankaty's General Manager and Dieter Wiedmayer, Head Golf Professional at Sankaty. Also in attendance were Keith and Rod Goldstein, the aunt and uncle of Jeff Kiley, the young man whom Jennifer resuscitated. In her absence, Hudson sent a letter to be shared at the ceremony, which was read by Jessica Guff, President of the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum and Vice President of Egan Maritime Institute.
I wish I was here celebrating Lifesavers Recognition Day with all of you. As you sit here this evening I am in Scotland cheering on our USA LPGA Tour Players competing in the Solheim Cup. Only a planned trip out of country could have prevented me from being here to accept this great honor—the Maurice E. Gibbs Commendation Award.
As I learn more about the Lifesaving Museum, the history of lifesaving efforts on our island and Maurice Gibbs himself—I am truly humbled to be recognized in the same spirit of service. I have always strongly felt that my life would center around service to my community. I am so fortunate to be able to serve those around me while I share in my love of the game. This is why I became a golf professional and how my journey has brought me to Sankaty Head Golf Club.
I can say two things with certainty—I have quickly come to love Nantucket and our Sankaty Head family. I also never thought that I would encounter a moment that would truly test my commitment to serving others. Growing up in New York I was a lifeguard—I have received CPR and safety training from the Red Cross since I was 15 years old. I never expected to have to use any of my training. I have wondered--if I was ever needed to perform life saving actions, could I? Would my instincts hasten me to action or would I freeze? Would I remember how to do everything correctly?
On June 12th I was teaching on our range and heard an unusual commotion on the other side of the practice tee. I was half turned around when I saw a group of people huddled around a spot looking down. I could not see what they were looking at. I felt an alarm go off in my gut and sprinted to see what happened. I remember instantly kneeling on the ground to asses why a young man was laying on our range. It was quickly apparent he was suffering. I could recognize that he was seizing but breathing. My first effort was to roll him to his side in case he vomited. He was foaming through his mouth and unresponsive. Then, in what seemed like just seconds later, he stopped breathing. From this point I cannot recall many specific details. I remember feeling completely and overwhelmingly determined and focused. I couldn’t hear anything going on around me. I lost sight of who or how many people were standing around us as I started chest compressions. I genuinely don’t remember feeling anything but my will and determination for Jeff. Then his body went even more quiet—a lifelessness I have never felt before. For the first time I panicked. Catching myself, I had a singular burning thought and whispered “not now, this is not happening, not now.” I couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop until Jeff came back. I absolutely refused to acknowledge he might not come back.
When Jeff’s body convulsed and he started choking, I was filled with gratitude. It was the best sound I have ever heard. He started to regain his breathing and was on the ground shaking and confused, slowly collecting himself. I lay next to him on the ground and tried to tell him he was o.k. And that he was so strong and brave. I wanted him to know how strong he was to be with us.
To me it was an eternity before the ambulance arrived. I just wanted someone who knew what they were doing to take care of him, to find out what was wrong and to make Jeff better. After Jeff left in the ambulance another staff member pointed to the sky. Above where we were laying there was a double rainbow. At this point adrenaline was still rushing through me. I walked to my Teaching area where I could be alone and cried. I cried out of relief. And all I could think was how grateful I was to God. Grateful that when this moment came, I didn’t freeze and that I had the strength to act. And that the actions I took were helpful. That God brought both Jeff and me through this.
While I happened to be the first to respond, the success of this day was much more than me. It was also Sankaty Head’s commitment to safety as it provides and requires CPR training for its entire staff each season. It was our Director of Golf, Mark Heartfield, who showed up seemingly out of nowhere with the defibrillator if we needed it. It was the staff who called 911 the instant it was needed. It was the staff who kept me and Jeff safe and gave us the environment we needed to focus. It was the ambulance team who administered further care to make sure Jeff would continue to recover. It was Jeff’s spirit and strength that allowed him to not give up. It was without a doubt the guiding hand of God that allowed all of these things to work for us.
I have come out of this experience with a profound sense of gratitude and an even deeper appreciation for life. I want to thank the Goldstein family for being here tonight. Please tell Jeff I think of him often and am so happy he is starting what I know will be a great year at college.
Thank you very much to the Egan Maritime Institute and Nantucket Cottage Hospital for this recognition. I am immeasurably honored to be tied to the history of Nantucket Island by such a positive and meaningful award. Thank you again.