HANCEVILLE, Ala. — This week a Wallace State Community College nursing student was able to check in on his first “patient” when he and a fellow good Samaritan met with the gentleman for whom they performed live-saving CPR.
Mason Jones of Cullman is in his second semester of the Wallace State Nursing program and is employed at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatic Center. On Tuesday, June 7, he was off the clock, but working out in the center’s gym. Nearby were Doug McGrew and his wife Kathy, each working out separately, and Lynn Hill, the mother of one of Mason’s friends.
Doug McGrew had just joined his wife in the gym, Kathy McGrew said.
“Doug had gone upstairs to run and I was on the treadmill,” she said. “And then he came back down and said, ‘My foot’s bothering me; I just ran two miles. I’m going to get on the sit-up machine and do a few sit-ups.’”
She transferred to another piece of exercise equipment while he started on his sit-ups.
“I just kind of felt a commotion behind me and turned around and looked and he was on the floor and already looked grey to me…and they had already started working on him,” she said.
They were Jones and Hill.
“I was running on the treadmill and just saw chaos,” Hill said. “Mason and the guys here [at the Aquatic Center] did amazing. They jumped right on it and called 911 and Mason was already getting him ready, so I just went over to assist Mason.”
Jones had been doing some weight lifting when he was alerted to a possible emergency.
“A lady looked at me and said, ‘Do you think this guy’s OK?’ And I looked at him and knew immediately that he was not OK,” Jones said. He unclipped his weights and dropped down to help Mr. McGrew.
“Mr. McGrew had actually already fallen down; he’d started seizing up, started having a seizure it seemed like to me, so I turned him over on his side, so if he started to aspirate then maybe he wouldn’t choke on it.
“He stopped breathing immediately once he started seizing; started to turn blue and then all of the seizures stopped,” Jones said. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a heartbeat after repeated attempts. By that time, Hill had joined Jones to offer her own assistance.
“She got down there with me and tried to help me find a pulse,” Jones said. “I couldn’t tell if maybe he had one and I was just so shaken up that I couldn’t feel it because mine was beating so fast, too.”
That wasn’t the case, however.
“Once we figured out he didn’t have a pulse I looked at Lynn and said I think we should start CPR and I immediately started doing chest compressions,” Jones said.
The pair performed about three cycles of CPR, with Jones performing chest compressions and Hill providing breaths. “I’m old school,” Hill said. “I still do the old CPR.”
“I did 90 compressions total before we felt a pulse again,” Jones said. “Then we hooked up the AED, and it detected he had a pulse but that it was dysrhythmia and it wasn’t in rhythm and it advised a shock and it shocked him once. And then everything got back into rhythm by then and we handed him over to the EMTs.”
An ordeal that felt like hours really lasted for only a couple minutes. “It seemed like a lot longer than it was,” Hill said.
Hill said everything she learned to be a nurse came back to her when she needed it the most. The same for Mason, he said, in regards to what he’s learned at Wallace State.
“It helped me in the situation where it wasn’t me thinking about what needed to be done, it just happened,” she said. “Instinct just kicked in. We’re required to have CPR training as a nursing student and working here as well. My CPR training, it’s pretty fresh, but most people do it and forget it. It was just something, like I said, where it happened and you remember it when the moment comes.
“At Wallace they’ve taught us a lot that you’ll know what to do when it happens,” Jones added, knowing this event confirmed for him that being a nurse is what he wants to do with his life. “I feel like Mr. McGrew was there for a reason, not just for me but for him as well. God puts people in your lives and puts you in certain places for a reason and I know that was the case.”
“The staff and faculty of the Department of Nursing Education are so proud of Mason Jones for his generosity in sharing his skills and for his successful performance of CPR,” said Deborah Hoover, chair of the department. “It is gratifying to know that our students are willing to be good Samaritans in every avenue of their lives.”
Mr. McGrew is on the mend and met with Hill for the first time since the incident on Monday, July 25. Jones visited with him on the Saturday after his attack at UAB.
“You just look amazing,” Hill told Mr. McGrew, who is returning to his job at General Dynamics on Monday, two months after his heart attack. He’s even jogging the little bit that his doctors will allow.
Mr. McGrew doesn’t remember his heart attack or even the hours and day before that led up to it. He wasn’t aware of what happened to him until the Friday evening after his attack, when he woke up in the ambulance transporting him from Cullman to Birmingham where he would have triple bypass surgery.
“I didn’t know what had happened,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d had a wreck if [Kathy] was OK or anything. But the paramedics assured me that I was going go be OK and told me what was going on.”
“We’re very thankful,” Kathy McGrew said, of the help, thoughts and prayers they received during the emergency and after.
“I’m very, very thankful,” Doug McGrew said.
“I’m very thankful you’re sitting here,” Hill added. “Like I said, you look amazing. I can’t quit saying that enough.”
Watch a VIDEO of the McGrews, Hill and Jones talking about the experience.