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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roy Exum: Hooray For Vanderbilt

Roy Exum: Hooray For Vanderbilt by Roy Exum posted October 29, 2011

Jim Askew, a 1956 graduate of Vanderbilt, is a longtime season ticket holder and desperately wants to watch his Commodores play Arkansas this afternoon, but his wife won’t let him. Before you go thinking that Mrs. Askew is a meanie, you should know that the last Vandy football game almost took Jim’s life.

Vanderbilt, so improved under new coach James Franklin, was in the midst of an exciting win over Army last week when Askew “began to feel weak. And from that point, I don’t know what happened,” he said.

The simple truth is he suffered a heart attack and he never saw it coming. He’d moved from his customary seats to sit high in the end zone early in the third quarter so he could better see the whipping the Commodores were putting on Army when suddenly he slumped over.

He remembers that Vandy had the ball at the 35 and the Commodores were leading, 23-6, at the time, but what he doesn’t recall were nearby fans racing to his side, beginning CPR and yelling for help. It took only seconds before Vanderbilt’s much-acclaimed LifeFlight Event Medicine team raced 70 rows up Vanderbilt Stadium and used a portable defibrillator to restore his breathing.

As a matter of fact, by the time they got to the bottom of the stairs Jim, age 77, was awake and wanted to know if Vanderbilt had scored on the drive. Assured the Commodores were doing fine, he was rushed to the nearby Vanderbilt Medical Center, stabilized, and told the Commodores had indeed won the game, the 44-21 score giving VU a commendable 4-2 record.

“It was such a great job on the behalf of everybody,” said Chad Hollingsworth, the paramedic who got the distress call. “This goes to show how important public-access AEDs are. What made this call so successful is it was a concerted effort: getting to the patient early, bystander CPR and early defibrillation with an AED on site. “We saved this person’s life with the most basic tools that we and the public have access to, and they were used properly and early,” he said, mindful of the fact Askew was at the hospital in just 15 minutes after the incident.

Early this week Vanderbilt cardiologists installed an implantable defibrillator and gave Jim permission to attend today’s game but his wife is having none of it. Apparently she wants to be sure the thing is working before the next home game against Kentucky on Nov. 12.

Other Vanderbilt football officials moved with lightning speed early this week after an embarrassing turn of events happened after the Army game. When Vandy players serenaded the crowd with the VU alma mater, the Army players and cheerleaders stood quietly. But when the Army players and cheerleaders took their turn, the Vandy players left the field and loud music over the public-address system drowned out the Army band.

Suffice it to say Vanderbilt’s football and basketball teams will have a new PA announcer this week. In addition, the athletic department issued the following letter on Oct. 25:

“To all of the men and women who attend and work at the United States Military Academy, their families, all graduates of USMA and their fans:

“We at Vanderbilt University would like to publicly offer our sincere apology for the events that occurred at the conclusion of our recent football game. While our football team performed our alma mater with our fans and band, the Black Knights, their band and cheerleaders, as well as their fans, stood at attention and honored us as would a worthy foe. However, after we were finished and the Black Knights began to perform their alma mater, our football team left the field and our loudspeaker blasted music that had the result of drowning out the performing of your alma mater.

“While there was no intention to be disrespectful, this was wrong and was a huge mistake on our part. There is no excuse for this oversight; we were just wrong and we are truly sorry.

“Make no mistake, the people at Vanderbilt University, our alumni and fans respect all that you do and have done for this nation. We are honored by what you stand for and we understand that this was not the way you should have been treated.

“On behalf of Vanderbilt University, please accept our apology for this mistake and oversight of your important protocol. You deserved better and we have learned from our mistake. We request your forgiveness.

Respectfully, Vanderbilt University

Sp. Fork first-grade hero saves classmate whose heart stopped .

Hilary M. Hendricks - Correspondent | Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011 12:35 am Read more:

SPANISH FORK -- One minute he was playing with his friends at the start of PE class. The next minute, 6-year-old Logan Powell was lying unconscious and his friend was running to the teacher for help. Powell's heart and breathing had stopped.

Hallie Witt, also age 6, said her class was playing steal the flag outside when she noticed Powell lying face down on the grass. "So then I checked on him. When I rolled him over he did a gasp and I saw purple lips and slobber."

Witt knew to look for purple lips because her mom Katrina Witt had been ill over the summer and showed her daughters how to call for help should her oxygen levels drop.

Asking another friend to stay with Powell, Witt ran to the PE teacher.

"I grabbed onto her arm and I shaked her," Witt remembered. "I knew that would work because I do it to my mom a lot. I said, 'Logan's lying down on the floor and he's fainting.' "

Minutes later, Witt and her classmates were shepherded back inside the school. But their teacher, Jennifer Jolley, Powell's aunt, allowed Witt to stand by the window and watch the police and medical team arrive.

"I didn't think he would be OK," Witt said.

Lt. Steve Adams of the Spanish Fork Police Department said the 9-1-1 call from East Meadows Elementary School came at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. "There were officers already in the area, and the first arrived at the two-minute mark," about half the time an emergency response usually takes, Adams said.

The officer found three to four school personnel surrounding the boy on the grass. Two secretaries had begun CPR, according to school personnel.

Three minutes after the 9-1-1 call, another officer arrived with an automated external defibrillator, a medical device that can diagnose heart malfunction and shock the heart back into rhythm.

"The AED confirmed that a shock was needed, so that was administered," Adams said. "The officers then continued CPR until the highly trained ambulance personnel arrived."

Powell was transported first to Mountain View Hospital in Payson and then by helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Doctors diagnosed him with Long QT syndrome, a genetic condition in which the heart races and then stops.

Powell's mother Laura Powell said that "before he leaves the hospital, he will have a tiny defibrillator placed in his chest. That will get his heart started right away if it stops again." Testing is underway to determine if his six siblings may have the condition as well.

Laura Powell said the doctors believe her son was not out of oxygen for very long because he's "improved so much faster than anyone expected." Although still in the pediatric intensive care unit, as of Friday night Powell was "talking, looking around, imagining" and the ventilator had been removed, said Laura Powell. "He's going to live and be fine."

To Powell's parents, the timing of the incident was "absolutely amazing," Laura Powell said. "If he had been playing in his room at home or asleep in the middle of the night when his heart stopped, we would have lost him."

The family credits Witt, as well as school and emergency personnel and the AED, with saving their son's life. "He's here because Hallie knew what to do," Laura Powell said. "She is truly a hero."

Lana Hiskey, spokeswoman for Nebo School District, said, "We are thrilled with how well our staff and the emergency personnel responded." Adams said of the rescue effort, "We're so grateful to arrive on a scene where people there are doing the right thing. The staff at East Meadows were appropriately dealing with the young man. From the location of the responding officers and the AED to the great service of the medical personnel, so many things were right in line to make this a perfect outcome."

Given the importance of immediate AED administration for victims of heart failure, last month the Nebo School District board approved funding for an AED in every school, with more than one in each high school. District personnel tested AED models to ensure the design they purchased would be optimally user friendly, Hiskey said. "You open the package and audio instructions tell you just what to do."

Laura Powell said that her son's experience has helped the school district make distributing the devices a priority, as well as training to go with them. "This can potentially save someone else's life, too," she said.

To read more about efforts to bring defibrillator awareness and training to communities, visit

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