Monday, November 28, 2005

Alabama's Got Class Even When Beat Up

Tide fan helps save Auburn fan's life (full story)

By Ray Melick
The Birmingham News

BIRMINGHAM -- It seemed silly at the time, but Blake Thompson's wife suggested they pray for tickets to the Iron Bowl. A few days later a friend called with an extra pair for the lifelong Alabama fan.

Thompson couldn't help but think, "God wants me at this game."

The family of Herman Culpepper is thankful God sometimes answers such trivial prayers.

Thompson, 29, who lives in unincorporated north Shelby County, was sitting with his wife, Brook, in Section 56, Row 19, seats 13 and 14 of the west upper deck at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday night during Auburn's 28-18 victory over Alabama. That's where he heard someone call out, "Somebody get a doctor. This man is having a heart attack!" A former National Guard combat medic, Thompson responded immediately and found the 74-year-old Culpepper sitting in his seat, not breathing, starting to turn blue.

"As a combat medic, I'd actually seen this," Thompson said. "I thought, 'He's dead.' Elderly, that color, he didn't even fall over -- and his wife told me he'd had three heart attacks. I thought, 'He's a dead man, but I'll do what I can.'"

As fans called for paramedics, Thompson and another fan, a nurse practitioner, ripped open Culpepper's Auburn windbreaker and Auburn shirt to begin CPR. While Thompson did chest compressions, nurse Carla Moore began doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"I couldn't find a pulse in his wrist or neck," Thompson said. "But his wife was standing there, so we went to work."

It took only a few minutes for paramedics from the East Alabama Medical Center, contracted to provide first aid for Auburn games, to arrive. They quickly attached an automated external defibrillator (AED) to Culpepper, and when the machine could not find a heartbeat, it fired electrical charges through Culpepper's body, literally shocking Culpepper back to life.

"My understanding is that our paramedics from the first-aid station on that level responded to a call for help and found a man wearing an Alabama shirt administering CPR to another man, who you've identified as Mr. Culpepper," said Dan Goslin, director of emergency medical services at the Opelika medical center.

"Our emergency medical personnel took over and transported him to East Alabama Medical Center. He woke up en route to the hospital, and my understanding is he's doing fine and was released (Tuesday).

"We're real proud of being able to help," Goslin said, "but I give all the credit to the Alabama fan who started CPR. That was very important. If Mr. Culpepper had been anywhere else, he wouldn't be with us today."

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