Pharmacy faculty member honored for saving life

August 20, 2010 | Features, UToday
By Christian Stewart



Dr. Martin Ohlinger, UT assistant professor of pharmacy, has been recognized as a hero.

Jerry Wiesenhahn, pharmacist and Ohio State Board of Pharmacy member, honored Ohlinger with that distinction for saving his life at a conference two years ago. He recently presented Ohlinger with a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA) Certificate of Heroism and a decorative pin displaying the word “hero” at a special event at the Capital Club in Columbus.

Ohlinger described this award as different from any other honor he has received because it is “very personal and very meaningful.” He also considers a card from Wiesenhahn just as valuable.

“It’s the first time I ever received something in the mail that started, ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and he meant it literally,” he said.

It was at the Ohio Pharmacists Association’s annual licensure ceremony Sept. 10, 2008, when Wiesenhahn lost consciousness and collapsed.

Ohlinger, along with another pharmacist and a nearby nurse, immediately took action. After checking his vitals, they realized Wiesenhahn had gone into cardiac arrest.

Initially, Wiesenhahn was breathing and had a pulse, but that soon stopped. And with no automated external defibrillator (AED) present, Ohlinger had to administer CPR to keep Wiesenhahn alive.

“I was lucky enough that the EMS arrived within six minutes to apply the AED that delivered the crucial shock that brought me out of arrest,” Wiesenhahn said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if not for the quick response by my team of lifesavers, I’d be a goner.”

According to SCAA, 90 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest die, resulting in nearly 300,000 deaths every year.

Wiesenhahn recently donated an AED to the Ohio Pharmacists Association to keep in its Upper Arlington office and use at events throughout the state.

Ohlinger is celebrating his 10-year anniversary at the University.

Ohlinger received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William and Mary and his pharmacy bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the Medical College of Virginia. He has been a pharmacist for nearly 20 years and, along with his teaching responsibilities at UT, he works with the surgical critical care service at UT Medical Center.

He is a member of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the Toledo Area Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

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