Good Samaritans helped save stricken man at KnightsFest; Victim, 68, leaves hospital

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comApril 1, 2013 

  • Want to learn CPR? Amy Faulkenberry, director of Marketing and Public Relations for Piedmont Medical Center, said the hospital provides free CPR training for individuals and local groups. For more information, email her at pmc.events@tenethealth.com.

— No one has to tell Tasia Lung how important it was for her and two other Good Samaritans to take action when a man working a grill at Knights Stadium on Saturday collapsed suddenly and stopped breathing.

Lung, 29, who recently relocated to Tega Cay, was an EMT in Indiana and kept her CPR certification up-to-date even though she is not certified to work as an EMT in South Carolina.

“The faster you can get someone CPR, it increases the odds the patient survives,” Lung said.

The 68-year-old stadium worker, whose name has not been released, appeared to be in cardiac arrest, but later that night had reportedly regained consciousness and was stable. The prognosis was better Sunday and by Monday he was released from Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville.

“The employee is doing fine and will be released from the hospital today,” said Tommy Viola, director of PR/Media Relations for the Knights. “[He] requested that his name not be released. The employee has worked for Ovations Food Services and the Charlotte Knights for nine years and looks forward to getting back to work at Knights Stadium soon.”

Both the Fort Mill Rescue Squad and a crew from Piedmont Medical Center responded to the call and members from each crew attended to the patient, who was transported to the hospital by the Fort Mill Rescue Squad, according to director Timothy McMichael.

Both McMichael and Amy Faulkenberry, director of Marketing and Public Relations for PMC, said rules prevent them from providing details about the man’s health, including what caused him to collapse.

When that occurred, he was busy making hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill in the stadium picnic area toward the end of Knights Fest, the team’s annual open house that signals the beginning of the season.

Not long after the man collapsed, Corey Anderson, also a Tega Cay resident and a sales account executive for the Fort Mill Times, was the first to provide aid. Not far behind him was WBTV sports personality Leah Rubertino. Both were at the stadium to play in a media softball game. Initially, someone in the picnic area yelled out that there was a fire and to call 911.

Anderson, 38, said he noticed flames and smoke coming from the grill at the concession stand seconds before he saw the man laying on the ground nearby.

“At first, I thought he had been burned,” Anderson said.

He said he saw the man was turning purple and he couldn’t detect a pulse, so he started administering chest compressions.

Rubertino, 30, whose mother was a medical professional who trained nurses when Rubertino was growing up, learned CPR in high school, but said she never had to use it until Saturday.

“I saw Corey was giving the compressions and I knew I could do the breathing – and you can tell the guy wasn’t breathing,” she said.

“He didn’t have any color in his face and that’s when instinct kicked in and I just started doing the breathing for him and it worked. He started breathing on his own. His eyes were open, but rolled back. They weren’t strong breaths, but he was hanging in there.”

At some point before the paramedics arrived, Lung, who had been in the Knights’ locker area with a group tour when she heard a public address announcement asking for a doctor or medical professional, showed up at the picnic area and identified herself as a trained EMT. Anderson and Rubertino let her continue the primary aid while Rubertino elevated the victim’s feet.

When the paramedics arrived, they used a used a defibrillator-type device to shock the victim’s heart before loading him on a stretcher and rushing him from the stadium.

“I saw that everyone was jumping in and helping and I said I could help if they needed me. It was great seeing everyone jump in to help,” Lung said.

It “warmed my heart” to see it,” she said.

As a newcomer to the area, “I feel super proud to live here now. It showed me we made the right choice moving here,” Lung said.

It was only after the victim was taken away that the reality of what just occurred filtered through to Rubertino, who appeared shaken for a moment or two afterward and was comforted by fellow WBTV reporter Sammi Jo Francis and other colleagues.

“It was when I got up and left the grill area and started to see people and they were coming up to me that it kicked in and I thought, ‘what in the world just happened?’” Rubertino said.

Scott Brown, general manger of baseball operations for the Knights said an EMT had been at the stadium for most of the event.

“We did have an EMT on site for Saturday’s KnightsFest, but he left at the conclusion of the game. Our protocol dictates anywhere from one to three EMTs on site for a Knights game depending on crowd size,” Brown said.

Fort Mill Times reporter Jenny Overman contributed.

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