Dec 15, 2022

Off-Duty IAEP EMT Saves Life in Florida

An off-duty EMT member of the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (IAEP) saved the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest at a bowling alley earlier this month.

Austin Pritchet, member of IAEP Local 05-092 and EMT for American Medical Response, was spending time with his parents at AMF Leesburg Lanes, a bowling alley in Leesburg, Florida in early December when he was alerted that another man in the bowling alley had collapsed near the concession stands.

Pritchet approached the man and felt a “very faint” pulse. When he rolled the man over, he noted that the man’s breathing was very shallow and “gurgled,” and his lips were turning blue, a sign of low blood oxygen levels.

Pritchet’s EMT training kicked in— as the crowd of concerned civilians waited for an ambulance to arrive, he went to work. When he was informed that the bowling alley did not have automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand, a device used help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, he began performing chest compressions.

“I gave him CPR for seven or eight minutes straight,” Pritchet said. “I only stopped for about ten seconds to take a break.”

The man became to “come around” as the ambulance arrived, Pritchet stated. He later heard that the man regained a steady pulse in the ambulance, and was taken to surgery at Leesburg Hospital, where he underwent a quadruple bypass.

“ER doctors said that if he hadn’t received CPR there on the scene when it happened, he probably would not be here now,” Pritchet said.

The man is now recovering from surgery and told Pritchet that he was doing well. The two connected over text message when he was released from the hospital, and even got a chance to reunite in person so they could meet properly.

“Austin thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for jumping in to help save my life,” wrote the man in a text message to Pritchet. “I truly probably wouldn’t be here if not for you and others [who helped].”

Pritchet said that he hopes people can take away from this experience how crucial CPR knowledge and preparedness can be, not just for EMTs and paramedics.

“Anyone can get CPR certified,” he said. “It never hurts to have that information. Anything, even as basic as that, can help make a difference.”

Pritchet also emphasized that he doesn’t really consider himself a hero, as many have called him, but rather someone simply putting his training to work.

“This was just me doing my job,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is what we train for, and I was doing just that.”

Regardless of Pritchet’s take on the situation, the man he saved remains eternally grateful.

“I’m just glad it happened in a place where angels like yourself were able to jump in and help,” wrote the man in a text message to Pritchet.

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Local 92 EMT Austin Pritchet (left) reunites with the man whose life he helped to save.
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