When a tenant suffered a stroke at Cochrane Road Self Storage in August, the managers knew exactly what to do. Blogger Gina Six Kudo relates the story and explains the importance of getting to know your tenants.

Gina Six Kudo

September 28, 2010

6 Min Read
Getting to Know Your Self-Storage Tenants Could One Day Save Someone's Life

In our daily routines at our self-storage facilities, were aware of people on our site, of the chores that need to be done, and if anything is amiss, but we need to really be aware in so many more ways. The following is an event that occurred at my facility, Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif.

On August 5, at about 10:50 a.m. my co-worker, Mark, received a phone call from a woman who said someone on our site may be having a heart attack. She asked Mark to call 911. At the same time, Fred, another coworker who was performing his unit audit came into the office and was explaining the same situation to me. Fred related that one of our long-time customers, Daniel, whom we chat with frequently, wasnt looking too good. He had started shaking, couldnt really speak and looked like hes drunk, according to Fred.

I knew right away which tenant the woman caller was referring to, it was the same man Fred had tried to speak with. Daniel has a history of heart problems, had heart surgery and suffers from diabetes.  As I placed the 9-1-1 call, Mark left to check on Daniel and offer him support. I gave the dispatcher as much information as I was privy to, including Daniels medical history and how long he had been on site, and that I believed from what my coworkers were describing it appeared he was having a stroke.

As I spoke with the dispatcher, another relative of Daniels arrived. Daniels grandson was with him when this all occurred and had placed a call home. She didnt know the name or address of our place, which is why she called asking us for help, not knowing we were already on top of the situation. I told the 9-1-1 dispatcher I was going to our tenant as soon as I hung up with her. When I reached Daniel it was apparent he was extremely weak on one side and couldnt speak. His family was seating him into the car and fanning him.

Our wonderful Morgan Hill firemen department, along with a paramedic truck, arrived on site within three minutes by my watch. We had the gate propped open and I was waiting on the golf cart to direct them to Daniel. Fred was stationed at the main crossroad to direct other tenants away from the area so the emergency responders were not impeded. One firefighter asked that I direct the approaching ambulance just as I had done for them. Within 10 minutes from start to finish, Daniel was loaded on a gurney and headed to the hospital.

Daniels grandson informed us during different trips in and out of the facility over the next days that, according to the doctors, had we all not acted so quickly Daniel would not have survived this medical emergency. Im very glad and proud that we didnt freak out, but handled things calmly and professionally. You always hope you will, but until faced with a real crisis you just never know how youll react in a crisis.

A few days later, with assistance from his family, Daniel visited us. There wasnt a dry eye to be found as we all shared hugs. Daniel can speak and stand upright with a cane, but even with the strokes effects and his emotions choking him up, he managed to convey his thanks to us.

In turn, I sent a thank-you note to my boss, Chuck Toeniskoetter. Chuck, along with several others, formed an organization to educate people about strokes. You can learn more about it here. Chuck suffered a stroke 10 years ago after skiing in Bear Valley. It was only through the tenaciousness and quick thinking of a nurse on the scene that the Life Flight helicopter was directed to a qualified stroke center. That call saved Chucks life and staved off what he may have suffered as a result of delayed or inappropriate treatment. Read more about it in this CNN article.

If not for Chuck and his involvement, we wouldnt be as stroke aware as we are at Cochrane Road Self Storage. We have printed materials in our office all the time, and we have a Stroke Awareness card taped to the left of our computer monitor. While I was aware of stroke symptoms before, having that card at hand and periodically reading it, drove all the pieces into place that day, coupled with what I knew about Daniels medical history. The paramedics knew they had to act fast based on the length of time Daniel had already been on site and the symptoms he presented.  At first his family thought he was just tired from moving and stumbling around a bit.

Because of the efforts of the Stroke Awareness Foundation, the Bay Area has gone from no certified stroke centers in 2003 to 15 and climbing. The effort is not just California-centric either. The Stroke Awareness Foundation has been recognized nationally as a leader in its focused coordination of certification, redirection and education. In February 2003, San Joses Good Samaritan Hospital became the first certified stroke center in California and one of the first five in the nation.

Some in our industry say, Dont get too close to the tenants, just collect the rent. Be professional, but aloof. Im sorry, but none of us here at Cochrane have that as part of our makeup. We do care, and we do listen when our customers come in and share bits and pieces of their lives with us. Daniel is literally living proof of this.

Id like to believe that being able to provide the paramedics with the background medical information on Daniel prior to their arrival at our facility saved a valuable moment or two. Of paramount importance to survival is having someone near when a stroke hits whos aware of the symptoms as much as it is to have a certified stroke center nearby.

Ten years after suffering a massive stroke and now in his mid-60s, Chuck is proof positive, just as Daniel is, that quick-thinking and acting people being aware can save a life. And that one life can then move forward to make a huge impact on others. Chuck, through his efforts helping to save others, and Daniels survival have given me the opportunity to educate each person reading this long post.

Chuck completed a journey of a lifetime tour of the United States in August on his Harley. He is a Vietnam veteran and wanted to experience the country he vowed to serve and protect. Chuck and his road mates, including his best friend and younger brother traveled more than 13,000 miles across the nation raising stroke awareness. CNN followed Chuck and friends along a small part of the journey. The special report will air on CNN Oct. 4.

Please visit the Stroke Awareness Foundation website and learn how you can potentially save a life. A stroke can strike at any age, even infants, and seemingly perfectly fit people like Chuck. It takes just seconds to learn the symptoms and you could provide someone with many more precious years of life just by knowing a few simple facts.


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