Southern Nursing Alum and Friends Save Life While Cycling
When a stranger suffered a heart attack while hiking, God placed James DeLong and his friends in the right place at the right time. DeLong, a 2006 nursing graduate from Southern Adventist University who now works as a cardiac nurse, was cycling on Fort Mountain, Georgia, with four of his friends. The group’s quick actions and medical knowledge saved the man’s life.
The cyclists had been riding hard for more than 40 minutes when they spotted the man stumble and fall about 25 yards from the road.
“I was the first to arrive on the scene and assumed that he had just tripped,” DeLong said. “He had fallen forward, and I could hear him wheezing, so I carefully turned him over on his back.”
DeLong quickly saw that the man was turning blue in the face and appeared to be dead. In an effort to resuscitate the victim, DeLong and one friend, Brad DeLay, a family practice doctor, immediately began administering CPR while another friend called 911. Since the ambulance was more than 30 minutes away, DeLong knew that they would need a defibrillator in order to have any chance of saving the man. Upon hearing this, fellow cyclist and firefighter, Douglas Kerns, headed down the mountain toward the ranger’s station in search of an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
As Kerns rode down, he passed a Forestry Service truck already responding to the call with an AED. DeLong and DeLay administered CPR for 10-12 minutes before the truck arrived on the scene.
“As the ranger got out, he mentioned that he had never used the defibrillator before,” DeLong said. “I began to worry that the batteries would not be good and that we would be unable to help this man.”
Fortunately the AED worked, and after receiving a single shock, the victim’s heart began to beat again on its own. He soon regained consciousness and was able to talk to his rescuers until the ambulance arrived.
“I am just so thankful that we were there at the right time,” DeLong said. “If we had ridden by just a few moments earlier, that man might have passed away without our knowledge.”
DeLong expressed that he has done hundreds of CPR compressions while working in the hospital but that this experience was quite different.
“My time at Southern definitely prepared me for this moment through clinicals and other hands-on opportunities,” DeLong said. “I also spent a lot of time in the skills labs at Southern, where I learned the proper way to administer CPR.”
Once the ambulance arrived, the victim was transported to Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Georgia, and doctors expect a full recovery. The evening before the patient’s release, DeLong and his friends visited the man in the hospital.
"It was really neat to meet his wife and children," DeLong shared, "and to know that we had made an incredible impact on them and had helped this man continue his life."