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Spectators Credited With Saving Local Man’s Life At Sporting Event

January 23rd, 2020 by WCBC Radio

FROSTBURG – A local man beat the odds after going into sudden cardiac arrest on the evening of January 14, 2020 in the Mt. Ridge High School gymnasium. The quick actions of three Western Maryland Health System employees, bystanders and school staff who immediately began CPR and applied a public access AED (automatic external defibrillator) are credited with saving the man’s life.

“Ninety percent of all out of hospital sudden cardiac arrest patients die,” Allegany County Department of Emergency Services Chief Christopher Biggs said. “Of the patients that survive pre-hospital cardiac arrest only nine percent are discharged from the hospital with the same neurological function as before the cardiac event.”

“The health system staff that were on the scene that evening saved this man’s life,” Biggs said. “Our pre-hospital clinicians continued to stabilize the patient and provided a rapid transport to the most appropriate cardiac intervention facility, in this case, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.”

Western Maryland Health System employees Alexa Pattison, radiology technician, Amanda Miller, echosonographer (cardiology services) and Kathleen Clark, respiratory therapist, were all spectators at the high school wrestling match, but became a vital part in the chain of survival for this local man.

The American Heart Association (AHA) reports in 2018 a total of 356,461 people died in the United States after a sudden cardiac arrest. Included in that number are 7,037 reported adolescent, child and pediatric cardiac arrest. The AHA reports that more people are surviving sudden cardiac arrest because of increased training and public access AEDs.

“Rates of survival have increased over the last decade because of increased layperson training and public access AEDs at malls, public buildings and specific to this event, the high school,” Biggs said. “In most cases, a patient that sustains a sudden cardiac arrest will be in a rhythm called ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Both rhythms can be corrected by early defibrillation with an AED.”

Ambulances from Allegany County Department of Emergency Services EMS Division- Frostburg Station and the Frostburg Fire Department responded to the 7:38 p.m. emergency. The first ambulance arrived on the scene five minutes after the 911 call at 7:43 p.m., according to Biggs.

The EMS crew, under the direction of Lieutenant Matthew Krause, included Paramedics Travis Mayhew, Scott Williams and David Sweitzer and Technician Kimberly Reichert.

“This incident had a positive outcome; one that we can only wish all incidents had,” Biggs said. “We want to stress to citizens that if you are having chest pain, trouble breathing or other systems that could be related to a cardiac event, to seek medical attention immediately.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States. More people die from sudden cardiac arrest than all other individual causes of death, including lung cancer, accidents (trauma), respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and other cancers, according to the AHA.

Lt. Todd Bowman is the public information officer for the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services. He can be reached at or phone at 240-609-8861.

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