U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, helped resuscitate a man who had stopped breathing at the Charlotte, N.C., airport Tuesday morning.
In a phone interview Tuesday evening, Roe said he was with South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney walking through the airport when the man collapsed.
Roe said he got up early to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight out of Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville that would then connect with a Charlotte flight on to Washington. He was pretty tired and had bought a cup of coffee he was sipping on as he and Mulvaney walked to their concourse.
“Someone shouted out, ‘Is there a doctor here?’ ” Roe said, adding he then noticed a man flat on the floor.
“I thought maybe he had passed out,” Roe said.
Roe and another man, whom Roe thought was a doctor, began performing CPR on the man after checking and not finding a pulse.
“Things happened so fast we didn’t have a chance to introduce ourselves,” Roe said. “We just went to work.”
Roe, who practiced as an obstetrician, suspected the man, who was not identified, had a heart attack.
He and the other doctor began performing CPR on the man. Soon someone brought over one of the airport’s automatic external defibrillators. Roe used the device on the man and he came around. Paramedics were on the scene by that point and took the man to a local hospital.
Roe contacted the hospital where the man was taken and was told he would likely survive.
The fact the man got treatment within 30 seconds of his medical emergency made all the difference in his survival, Roe said.
Roe said Mulvaney explained the emergency to U.S. Airways, which held their flight so Roe could stay with the man until he was taken to the hospital.
Roe said he was glad to be able to help and said he was a strong supporter of having AEDs readily accessible. He said anyone could use one to save a life.
“It works like a charm,” Roe said of the AED. “He was flatlined and we defibrillated him. If they hadn’t had it (an AED) in the airport I don’t think this guy would have made it.”
Roe wanted to give credit for the man’s survival to emergency responders who came to the airport with their own equipment and tended to the man, including fire, police and paramedics.
Roe said he had never had to call on his medical knowledge in public quite like he had to Tuesday morning.
“I’ve had people in the summer when it’s really hot pass out,” Roe said. “And I had a couple of people have seizures, I’ve had to attend to them. But I’ve never had a heart attack” victim.
Roe earned his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in 1970. He served two years in the Army Medical Corps. Immediately before taking office in January 2009, Roe was serving as Johnson City mayor.
“You don’t get to quit being a doctor,” Roe said.