A Dalton firefighter and two friends were in the right place at the right time on Saturday to save a man’s life. The three men were part of a cycling trip up Fort Mountain in Murray County, Ga. when they saw a man collapse from an apparent heart attack on a hiking trail and provided life-saving CPR for nearly 15 minutes until help could arrive. The man survived and was taken to an area hospital.
The incident happened Saturday afternoon in Fort Mountain State Park. A group including Dalton firefighter Douglas Kerns and friends Brad DeLay of Dalton and James DeLong of Collegedale, were eight miles into their bike ride up the mountain road near Chatsworth when they decided to ride into the park. Also riding with the group were Tim Regal and Chip Witherow of Dalton. The plan was to ride into the park and turn around where the road meets the hiking trail to the fire tower before heading back down the mountain.
As the group passed the trail head, however, Mr. Witherow, Dr. DeLay, and Mr. DeLong saw a man about 25 yards from the road stumble and fall to the ground. Mr. DeLong ran over the victim, a man in his 50’s, to check on him. The victim was having an apparent heart attack and was gasping for air, already turning blue in the face.
Fortunately for the victim, Dr. DeLay is a family practice doctor in Dalton and Mr. DeLong is a registered nurse with years of experience in cardiac care. Dr. DeLay and Mr. DeLong immediately started CPR on the victim while another member of the group called 911.
The group sent Mr. Kerns to get help, knowing that the victim needed a defibrillator. As Mr. Kerns rode back down the mountain, he passed a Forestry Service truck responding to the call. Park Ranger Mike Gardner responded to the scene with an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator). After getting one shock from the AED, the victim’s heart started to beat on its own again.
Despite being “down” for approximately 10-15 minutes while Dr. DeLay and Mr. DeLong performed CPR, the victim shortly regained consciousness and started to talk to his rescuers. Shortly after, an ambulance arrived and transported the victim to Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton. He is expected to make a full recovery.