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Heroes honored for helping ETSU adjunct faculty member after suffering heart attack

Rex Barber • Mar 14, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Mary Alexander intended on doing research at East Tennessee State University’s Sherrod Library one day this past December, but she suffered a heart attack when she got there and collapsed in the building.

Mary Maupin, of ETSU’s facilities management staff, called 911.

Alexander, who is an adjunct faculty member at ETSU and a former Washington County commissioner, was immediately tended to by three students –– Brian Myers, an exercise science major, and Greg Alan and Aaron Fleenor, both nursing majors.

“I was at the library studying and heard somebody scream for help and went around the corner and saw a lady collapsed in the floor,” Fleenor said. “And Brian had already started the breathing, and I began compressions.”

Fleenor and Alan had never been in a situation like that, but used their training to deliver CPR and also grabbed a nearby AED device.

“We’ve had the training, just not a real-life situation,” Alan said.

Fleenor said when he saw Alexander on the floor, he was a little nervous.

“I mean, in any situation, I guess, when you’re dealing with life and death it’s a serious situation,” he said. “And I’m just glad that it had a great outcome.”

Alan agreed.

“It’s pretty rewarding to have such a positive outcome and to be able to use your skills to achieve such a positive outcome, so that’s encouraging,” Alan said.

ETSU Public Safety officers and also paramedics arrived quickly and took it from there.

That was Dec. 6. Alexander has since recovered. She was present during a ceremony at ETSU Wednesday morning honoring everyone involved in providing her that immediate care. ETSU gives out what it calls “Unsung Hero Awards” from time to time and Wednesday those were given to Alan, Fleenor, Myers, Maupin and the three ETSU public safety officers who responded –– Sgt. Rodney Williams and officers Amanda Worley and Waymond Babb.

ETSU President Brian Noland praised everyone involved.

“These students saved Mary Alexander’s life,” Noland said.

ETSU President Emeritus Paul Stanton Jr., who retired from the presidency in January, was present and said he was privileged to call Alexander a friend whom he has known for many years.

“We’re also so appreciative of the students and the officers that were involved with the resuscitative efforts, because it shows if it’s done in a timely fashion, done properly, the AED, the whole CPR activities, lives can be saved,” Stanton said.

Alexander said she did not remember coming to ETSU on Dec. 6 or going to the library and passing out. She was grateful for the students who acted so quickly, though.

“I’m a firm believer that God always puts angels of mercy right where you need them and that’s what he did for me that day,” she said.

ETSU Public Safety Chief Jack Cotrel also gave commendations to the officers involved and police lifesaving medals to Worley and Williams.

He also praised the three students.

“It makes me proud to know I have students, we have students, like you at this university,” Cotrel said.

Another “Unsung Hero Award” was given Wednesday to ETSU employee Sammy McCray, a facilities management staff member, who, on Oct. 9, provided last-minute urgent assistance to help make the ETSU Centennial Celebration closing event a success.

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