A Vanderbilt alumnus and longtime football season ticket holder suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at Saturday’s game in the Vanderbilt Stadium.
Thanks to the quick response from Vanderbilt’s LifeFlight Event Medicine team and the presence of an automatic external defibrillator (AED), Jim Askew, 77, will be back in the stands in a few weeks cheering on his beloved Commodores.
Askew, VU ’56, was watching the game from his seat in the end zone, feeling fine, and relishing Vanderbilt’s 23-6 lead over Army. At halftime he moved to the S section on the Army side and positioned himself in row 70, near the top of the stands because it was less crowded. He recalls that Vanderbilt had the ball on the 35-yard line.
“I began to feel weak, and at that point I don’t know what happened,” he said three days later from his room at Vanderbilt University Hospital.
Paramedic Chad Hollingsworth happened to be in the first aid station on the east side of the stadium when the call came in that a spectator was in distress. With the help of VUPD, he and other members of the LifeFlight Event Medicine team, including Erik Gallup, the lead medic on call, made their way up to the top to find Askew unconscious and not breathing.
Bystanders had already begun CPR. The paramedics used the AED to restore Askew’s heart rate, loaded him on the spine board, started compressions again and carefully transported him down 70 rows to an ambulance. When they got to the bottom of the stairs, he was breathing again. He asked about the score of the game.
“It was such a great job on the behalf of everybody,” Hollingsworth said. “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 we, and the public, have access to, and they were used properly and early.”
Askew reached the Emergency Department within about 15 minutes of the time he became unconscious. He underwent a procedure on Monday to receive an implantable cardiac defibrillator and was discharged on Tuesday to return to his home that overlooks Nashville’s Radnor Lake.
“I asked about going to the game on Saturday when Vandy plays Arkansas, but my wife won’t let me,” he said.