Saving a Life

by Tim Froberg

Saving a life is more than just the noblest of acts. It’s an actual skill and an important one that Ann Marie Koleske teaches.

Koleske owns Hands to Heart LLC., a private business in which a four-person staff of professional instructors teach classes on CPR, First Aid, Automated External Defibrillators, Blood Borne Pathogens, and Emergency Oxygen.

Known as “Annie,” Koleske started Hands to Heart in 2004. It travels to business sites and teaches on location. Her clients are primarily businesses in the industrial, financial, manufacturing, and construction fields, along with churches and other organizations.

Koleske, a Hortonville High School graduate, has a medical background. She obtained her CNA (certified nursing assistant) by the age of 18 and earned a degree in respiratory therapy. She worked in the nursing field at St. Elizabeth Hospital before going back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Lakeland College and a master’s degree from Silver Lake College in organizational behavior.

Q: What inspired you to start your business?

A: “I wanted to stay in the medical field yet become an entrepreneur.  I love teaching people how to save lives.”

Q: What’s the most important thing a person should know in a medical emergency?

A:  “Every second counts. If you can just get started with that person and can get 911 on the way, their chances of survival really increase. It’s all about keeping the brain alive, more so than bringing that person back to life. If their brain cells aren’t intact when they get to the hospital, there’s not much doctors can do.”

Q:  How do clients respond to your classes?

A: “Most are open and receptive. We want people to not be afraid to step in during an emergency. Most of the time, people are afraid they’re going to hurt that person.”

Q: Do you cater your classes to clients?

A: “We adjust based on the client. If you’re in a dental office and a person is having a medical emergency, you’re going to get them on the floor because it’s hard to climb up on a dental chair and do CPR. If someone is stuck on a bridge beam at a construction site, that’s a totally different situation.”