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A life saved

by Larry Chowning

At about 7:15 p.m. on June 12 at the Middlesex Sports Complex in Locust Hill, Joseph (Joe) Guthrie of Newport News was walking his grandson from the baseball field when Guthrie fell face down to the ground near the concession stand.

His son-in-law rushed to his side and immediately called 911. Fortunately for Guthrie, Paul Murray of Hardyville, who is a member of the Chesterfield Fire Department and a volunteer with the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department, was there watching a game. His son’s game was over but he had stayed around to watch another player pitch.

“I hope people who saw this understand that people need to know CPR.”
—Paul Murray

Someone yelled, “Does anyone know CPR . . . a man needs help up by the concession stand!”

Murray rushed to the scene. By then, Guthrie had turned purple, “the color of a Minnesota Vikings helmet,” and there was no pulse, said Murray.

Murray knew seconds were critical and immediately began CPR. After three cycles, Murray felt a heart defibrillator activate in Guthrie’s chest. “So I knew he had heart problems in the past,” Murray said. “I worked three more cycles and then it (the defibrillator) hit again.”

By then, Lee Ward of Hartfield, a fireman with the Williamsburg Fire Department and a volunteer with the Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department, began to assist Murray. “I got Lee to check for a pulse and there was an indication that there was one,” said Murray.

“His heart had started, so by then he started opening his eyes, but he couldn’t talk. He seemed really in pain, which I think was from the defibrillator going off. About three minutes later he asked what had happened. I asked him if he knew where he was, but he didn’t know,” continued Murray.

“Lee went and got ice wrapped in towels to cool him down. By the time he got back, the man and I were talking to each other and he knew where he was,” said Murray.

“I’m just really glad that it worked out. It was a very public situation with several 100 kids there,” said Murray. “His grandson was there and saw it all. I didn’t want him to have bad memories of that day for the rest of his life and it being attached to his Little League baseball experience.

“I hope people who saw this understand that people need to know CPR,” he said. “I can credit the success to being right there when it happened. You don’t need a lot of elaborate training to save a life. If you witness it and are right there, you can restart someone’s heart pretty easily. A lay person who knows CPR has a better chance of saving a life if they witness it, than a professional does coming six minutes later. People need to know CPR! 

“I’ve seen a whole lot more lay people save lives than professionals, simply because they were right there when it happened,” Murray added. 

The Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad of Deltaville arrived, helped stabilize Guthrie and transported him to a field at Middlesex Elementary School. The helicopter Nightingale landed in the field and carried him to Riverside Regional Hospital in Newport News. 

“We are very thankful for all those people who stepped forward and helped,” said Craig Revere, president of the Middlesex County Little League. “These types of things bring out the best in a community and we have a great community.”

Guthrie was released from Riverside-Newport News Hospital on Sunday.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 06.19.2013

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