Pensacola fire chief acts fast to save man suffering heart attack at tennis court – Pensacola News Journal


Colin Warren-Hicks, Pensacola News Journal
Published 6:00 a.m. CT May 20, 2020

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Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor was off-duty and playing tennis Sunday when she saw a man at a nearby court fall and suffer a heart attack.

She sprang into action, immediately starting CPR, and her actions are credited with saving the man’s life.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson praised Cranor for her quick response during his weekly press conference Monday.

“She’s a great representative of who we are here at the city of Pensacola, and I just wanted to again thank her for the work she does every day,” Robinson said.

Pensacola Fire Chief Ginny Cranor (Photo: Courtesy of the City of Pensacola)

Cranor had already been playing tennis for about an hour at the campus courts at Pensacola State College when the man slumped over on the far court, she recalled. 

“I threw my phone at my friend and said ‘Call 911,'” she said.

The fire chief ran over to the man, who was unconscious and had no pulse, and immediately started chest compressions while assigning tasks to bystanders.

“I asked one of the strangers to run to one of the buildings and see if she could find an (automated external defibrillator),”  Cranor said. “She didn’t ask any questions. She just ran and looked for an AED. Of course, the buildings were locked, so she wasn’t able to get one.”

Another bystander used a bag designed for a tennis racket to prop up the man’s feet into an elevated position. Cranor remembers how a few bystanders offered help by “sending out some spiritual assistance” through prayer.

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Everyone on the courts worked together until first responders arrived.

“These were complete strangers — Pensacola strangers that came together to assist this person who had died,” Cranor said. “He was pulse-less.”

The first emergency responders to arrive? You guessed it: Pensacola firefighters.

“We had a very rapid response from Pensacola Fire Department crews,” Cranor said. “The engine company that arrived, of course, I know them because I am the fire chief. As they’re walking up, I’m providing them some insight into what has been happening and where we need to go next. They took over the scene and put an AED on and were able to defibrilate the victim.”

Firefighters established an airway and provided the man with oxygen. By the time Escambia County EMS units arrived to transport him to the hospital, the man’s circulation had returned.

Cranor said she hopes the incident shines a light on the importance of bystander CPR.

She recommends that everyone have a basic knowledge of CPR and the American Heart Association’s “out-of-hospital chain of survival,” which include recognizing a heart attack, performing chest compressions, defibrillation, medical care and post-cardiac arrest care.

“If I can highlight one thing, it is just that bystander CPR is critical,” she said. “This is a perfect example.”

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at colinwarrenhicks@pnj.com or 850-435-8680.

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