California Self Storage Operator Saves Life of Tenant

Posted on Sep 28 2010 - 11:45pm by John Stevens

Self storage operator Gina Kudo and her coworker saved the life of a tenant last month at her facility, Cochrane Road Self Storage, in Morgan Hill, California. The tenant was having a stroke, and his life was saved by the quick thinking and actions of Kudo and the rest of Cochrane’s staff. After the incident, Kudo wrote in to Inside Self-Storage to explain the importance, from a safety standpoint, of stroke awareness, getting to know tenants and being aware of what may be happening in a self storage facility.

On the morning of August 5, Kudo explained, one of her tenants suddenly started shaking, couldn’t speak and seemed “drunk,” according to one of her coworkers. But Kudo knew the tenant, and she knew he wasn’t drunk. She thought it sounded like he was having a stroke. He had a history of heart trouble, had had heart surgery, and also had diabetes. Kudo called 911, explaining the tenant’s medical history to the dispatcher over the phone, and indicated that she suspected her tenant was having a stroke. Meanwhile, she sent a coworker to stay with the tenant, Daniel. Daniel’s grandson was with him as well, and had phoned a relative to ask for help. But Daniel was growing progressively weaker. His family members had him sit down in the car and were fanning him.

The Morgan Hill Fire Department, Kudo noted, arrived within three minutes. Kudo had previously propped the gate open and was waiting on a golf car to direct them to Daniel’s location. She stationed a coworker at the main crossroad to direct other tenants away from the area. Then, at a paramedic’s request, she went back to the gate to direct the ambulance when it arrived. Within ten minutes Daniel was headed for the hospital.

Later Daniel’s family told Kudo that doctors at the hospital had commented that without such quick action by the self storage facility staff, Daniel would not have survived his stroke. A few days later, Daniel himself was able to come for a visit.

In addition to knowing her tenants well, Kudo also had the benefit of stroke awareness training provided by her boss, Chuck Toeniskoetter, who had experienced a stroke and founded the Stroke Awareness Foundation. The Stroke Awareness Foundation uses the acronym FAST to help people to remember the signs of stroke and to know that they need to act quickly. The signs are:

  • Facial weakness
  • Arm and leg weakness
  • Speech problems

The T in FAST stands for “time is critical,” as it was in Daniel’s case. Kudo advocates making sure that the entire staff of a business understands the warning signs for stroke, and keep a Stroke Awareness card close by at the front desk, so staff members have a reference to refer to when they are in doubt.

Meanwhile, her boss, Toeniskoetter, recently completed a Harley road trip in honor of stroke awareness. Some parts of the trip, and a special CNN report on stroke awareness, will air on CNN on Oct. 4.

Sources used:

Cochrane Road Self Storage.

Kudo, Gina. “Getting to know your self-storage tenants could one day save someone’s life.” Inside Self-Storage. Sept. 28, 2010.

Stroke Awareness Foundation.