Tennessee Congressman Helps Save Heart Attack Victim

When he returned to Washington Roe was told it appeared the patient would survive.


MICHAEL COLLINS, Knoxville News-Sentinel | | Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Phil Roe may be known primarily as a congressman these days, but for a few minutes Tuesday, he was once again Phil Roe, medical doctor - and may have saved a man's life in the process.

The Johnson City Republican, who was an obstetrician/ gynecologist before becoming a congressman, helped resuscitate an unidentified man who collapsed early Tuesday morning at the airport in Charlotte, N.C.

Roe was returning to Washington and was walking with U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., through the airport around 7 a.m. when suddenly someone yelled for a doctor. "I look around and go running over, and there was this man lying there," he said. The man, who apparently was traveling alone and appeared to be in his mid-50s, was gasping for breath. "You could see he didn't have a pulse, a heartbeat," Roe said. "His breathing was agonal - it was terminal."

Roe and a young woman who he thinks also was a doctor - they never had time to introduce themselves - immediately went to work. They administered CPR while waiting for EMTs to hook up a defibrillator. Then, they used the defibrillator to help restart the man's heart.

Roe said the emergency workers' machines showed the man had flat-lined. But as they worked on him, he started to breathe on his own and began to stabilize.

"I can't say enough good things about the training our fire and police and EMTs had that were there," Roe said. "Those guys got there in a hurry, were plenty of help and got this man to the hospital."

US Airways delayed Roe's plane so he would not miss his flight. When he returned to Washington, a police officer called and told him it appeared the patient would survive.

Roe said he still doesn't know the man's identity. "I don't know who he was, where he came from or anything," he said. Roe said he has resuscitated other cardiac arrest patients, "but not while walking through an airport after a latte."

"These kind of events that come along like this make you glad you have a little training to help somebody," he said.

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