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The Lancaster Fire Department, Fairfield Medical Center and Community Heart Watch recently came together at Deb’s Corner Café in Lancaster to recognize a staff member from the restaurant whose quick action helped save a life.

Joseph Baer of Lancaster was recently presented with a Great Save Award for performing CPR on John Shelton of Lancaster, who went into cardiac arrest on Dec. 14, 2021, while dining at Deb’s Corner Café. Great Save Awards are presented by Community Heart Watch to individuals who provide lifesaving intervention in situations where someone is experiencing cardiac arrest.

Baer, who works at Deb’s Corner Café, said he had never performed CPR before, but instinctively knew what to do when he saw Shelton suddenly slump over on Dec. 14. “I wasn’t trained in CPR but had seen it done before, so I just got him on the floor and started to press hard and fast on his chest,” he explained.

Baer performed CPR for approximately 10 minutes before EMTs arrived on scene and transported Shelton to Fairfield Medical Center. Shelton said his heart attack proved to be a life-changing experience; he’s since lost more than 40 pounds and is leading a healthier, more active lifestyle.

“This story is a perfect example of how anyone, regardless of their level of expertise or training, can save a life when someone is experiencing cardiac arrest,” said Dr. John Lazarus, interventional cardiologist at FMC and Community Heart Watch Clinical Champion. “Because of Joseph Baer’s actions that day, he kept John alive until emergency personnel arrived on the scene. He made the heroic decision to step in and do what he could to increase John’s chances for survival.”

Sudden cardiac arrest affects nearly 356,000 Americans each year, and without bystander intervention, only 1 in 10 will survive. Community Heart Watch is a collaborative effort of EMS, businesses, schools and medical providers in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry Counties focused on saving lives from cardiac arrest through education, training and improving access to lifesaving AEDs. To learn more about Community Heart Watch, contact community outreach coordinator Teri Watson at

Learn more about Community Heart Watch