Hometown Hero: For a Gilmanton family, home is where the heart pumps 

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 08-16-2023 10:33 AM

Aidan Mini and Michelle Fridlington had no idea last spring that their lives would be intertwined forever.

They formed an alliance last May, unknown to them at the time, before Aidan’s senior year at Gilford High School. She was the wellness teacher at the high school, teaching CPR. He was the student, absorbent like a sponge.

Aidan, like most who take the course, never figured he’d need to perform CPR. He was wrong, though. Soon after the class, he performed it on his father, Adam Mini, until help arrived. Adam had suffered a cardiac arrest. His son was credited with saving his life.

The clock stops, people say, during extremely stressful circumstances. Aidan certainly had no idea how much time had passed while he was pounding on his father’s chest.

“I don’t remember how long it was,” Aidan said. “I wasn’t thinking about time.”

“Pure adrenaline,” Fridlington added.

They were together last week in the parking lot at the Public Safety Complex in Gilmanton. Aidan received a certificate of thanks from a representative of Concord Hospital.

He’s also the recipient of the Monitor’s most recent Hometown Hero recognition, nominated by his father, for good reason, obviously.

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At the complex, Aidan received hugs and pats on the back and admiration from rescue personnel, family and friends. The near-death experience inspired Adam, just 5-foot-6, to lose weight and exercise. He once weighed over 300 pounds but has lost 30 in less than three months.

These days, Adam also takes the value of learning CPR a little more seriously than he once did.

“I had no idea he was going to take CPR,” Adam said, referring to his son. “It was a throw-away moment. ‘I got my certificate.’ I thought, big deal. You’re not going to use it.”

Aidan learned it from Fridlington, who substituted for his regular teacher, out after having knee surgery. Fridlington, who was CPR certified, took over the class and received permission to teach CPR.

The regular teacher was not scheduled to cover this material with students until later. By then, it would have been too late.

“It would not have been taught until three weeks later if I had not taken over the class,” Fridlington said.

Four days later, minutes after Aidan Mini had arrived home late from work, Adam suffered a cardiac arrest in his living room and fell to the floor, banging his head on a glass table on the way down.

Aidan screamed to his mother upstairs, saying he needed her. Michelle Mini raced down the steps and began pumping Adam’s chest. His lips were dark blue, his eyes rolling around.

“Then I noticed she was a little distressed while doing it,” said Aidan, in a now-comical understatement. “So I then took over for a few minutes.”

Aidan took what he had learned from his wellness teacher and applied it. He conducted CPR, making sure he was pressing hard enough on his father’s chest. Hard enough, even, to bust a rib, he was taught.

He saved his father’s life, providing vital blood flow and delivering oxygen where needed, until police and EMTs arrived.

Adam lay on the floor near the couch, lifeless. He needed three blasts from the automated external defibrillator pads. Then his heart began beating again.

Luck played a part here. Aidan chose not to workout at the gym that day. Instead, he got out of work late and went straight home.

“I might not have been home and my mother was upstairs,” Aidan said. “Every piece came together and I was able to be right where I was needed, just at the right time.”

Also in play, of course, was that Aidan had learned CPR earlier than expected. He said he would have tried to help his father without the training, but added, “I would not have used even half the intensity needed. I would not have understood the pressure, of how deep you have to go, and it’s a lot deeper into the chest than you think.”

Ribs are broken sometimes during CPR. Not this time, although Adam felt the pain, saying he woke up “bruised.”

The family laughed. Enough time had passed, making humor acceptable. They laughed when debating what Adam had first said once the third electric shock penetrated his chest wall and brought him back to life.

“Ow,” Michelle Mini insisted.

“Ooh,” countered Aidan.

That night, in the ER, Aidan contacted the teacher who, it turned out, taught him something far more important than trigonometry.

“He sent me an email, thanking me,” Fridlington said. “He told me the story. It brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t believe it.”

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