Good Samaritans: Being trained in CPR saved man’s life

Thomas Fielder

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The mystery of who saved a man’s life at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront over the weekend is beginning to unravel.

10 On Your Side already told you about one Good Samaritan, but we got a call about a second and third who came to the rescue. Two nurses and a volunteer EMT were in the right place at the right time. They say it’s not what they do, but that they are trained in CPR, that saved the man’s life.

“It was a really surprising situation to find myself in,” said Thomas Fielder, a nurse at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital’s Vascular Intensive Care Unit.

Leigh Curran
Leigh Curran

He said he wasn’t expecting to have to help someone right there on the boardwalk, but when he and several others saw a 65-year-old man collapse Friday night, he knew what to do.

“At the same time, two other people showed up,” Fielder said. “We started to see if he was responsive.”

Leigh Curran, a school nurse at Jolliff Middle School in Chesapeake, was one of them.

“We just do what we’re trained to do,” she told 10 On Your Side. “You don’t think about really anything, but saving the person’s life.”

Derek Fuller
Derek Fuller

Derek Fuller, a Virginia Beach Volunteer EMT who happened to be working at his other job at the Oceanfront Friday evening, was the third to run to the rescue.

Fuller, Curran, and Fielder jumped into action, and started CPR.

“During the chest compressions, he did move his arms in a purposeful way,” Fielder said. “So we turned him to his side, but he went back into agonal breathing.”

Police were on scene shortly after, forming a barricade around the Good Samaritans. Officers trained in CPR took over treatment, one grabbing a defibrillator off a police bicycle unit.

A shock was delivered, and police say the man survived. Since then, the police department has distributed notes through the media, as well as on social media, searching for the three people who helped save him.

“That was what excited me, is that he’s OK,” Curran said.

“I feel good. I feel like I helped somebody out,” Fielder said.

But all three stress the importance of knowing CPR.

“Anybody can learn it, everybody should learn it, and it’s the only thing you can do in that situation. There’s nothing else,” Fielder said.

A Virginia Beach EMS spokesman said timely CPR is key to survival when someone is in cardiac arrest. The sooner the CPR is done, the better. He added that there are several ways you can become trained — the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association both offer CPR classes.

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