Off-duty S.C. firefighter saves man in cardiac arrest at gym

"The man grunted, fluttered his eyelids," said Lt. Adam Jordan after he used an AED on the collapsed man. "I talked to him a little bit, I said, 'Welcome back.'"

Sofia Sanchez
The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.)

BEAUFORT, S.C. — An off-duty firefighter apparently saved a man who went into cardiac arrest Tuesday at the Planet Fitness in Beaufort.

Seeing Lt. Adam Jordan at the Planet Fitness on Robert Smalls Parkway is not unusual, especially if it's his day off work from the City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department. Just before 9:30 a.m., Jordan and his wife were exercising when she heard someone yell.

"My wife said, 'I think someone is hurt,'" Jordan said. "I found someone blue with trouble breathing, their pulse was thready."

Jordan immediately went to work performing CPR while a gym employee, Don Martz, grabbed the automated external defibrillator (AED), a machine used to deliver an electrical shock to restore a person's heartbeat.

"In five years with the company, I've pulled the machine twice and used it once [on Tuesday]," Martz said. "We've only had two emergencies where they've taken people away."

Once the first shock was administered at 9:35 a.m., Jordan said the man responded immediately.

"The man grunted, fluttered his eyelids," he said. "I talked to him a little bit, I said, 'Welcome back.' He responded back to me."

The incident happened the morning after an NFL football player, Damar Hamlin with the Buffalo Bills, collapsed on the field in Cincinnati during Monday Night Football after going into cardiac arrest. Doctors were able to restart his heart before he was taken away by ambulance. Hamlin on Wednesday was still in critical condition.

When the fire department was sent out to the gym after the manager, Alex Gregory, called 911, they had no idea they would find one of their own at the scene.

"I heard the call coming in through dispatch and heard, 'customer doing CPR,' not realizing it was one of our guys," said Chief Ross Vezin a spokesperson for the department. "Ultimately, that [CPR] and AED saved his life."

The man who went into cardiac arrest at the Beaufort gym ended up staying overnight at the hospital, but was in good condition as of Wednesday, Gregory said. He is not being identified to protect his privacy.

Administering CPR and chest compression as soon as possible is essential in emergency situations like this one, said responding paramedic and City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department Lt. David Evans.

"In emergency situations, we're thinking a certain way; when we know someone [who is CPR-certified] is there, it's better because we know those steps have already been taken," Evans said. He said once he saw Adam Jordan, he knew "we had someone that knew what to do."


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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