At first, he thought his friend, Roger Sherer, had tripped on the stand, hit his head and fallen unconscious, but someone quickly pointed out that Sherer wasn’t breathing.
Fyfe, who just a few months ago had attended a course to get certified in CPR, jumped into action. He told someone to call 911, yelled for someone to find a defibrillator and asked if there was someone to help with CPR.
Another man was on the floor about to begin CPR, but he wasn’t certified, so Fyfe took over, alternating between CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Hoover 911 operator David Sibley assisted with instructions by phone.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Fyfe said, looking back on the incident that took place Wednesday afternoon. “It seemed like an hour went by,” but in reality, Hoover Fire Department paramedics were on the scene within six minutes of getting the call, he said.
There was no automated external defibrillator (AED) at Rooms To Go or the Field & Stream store next door, but Hoover paramedics had one and used it to shock Sherer’s heart when they arrived, Fyfe said.
Paramedics whisked Sherer to the UAB Medical West freestanding emergency department at the intersection of Interstate 459 and John Hawkins Parkway. While en route to the ER, Sherer regained a pulse and started breathing on his own, but he still wasn’t responsive, Hoover Fire Department Emergency Medical Services Officer Rusty Lowe said.
Dr. David Denney at the Medical West ER stabilized Sherer further before transferring him to St. Vincent’s Birmingham and said this was one of the best field resuscitations he had ever seen, Lowe said.
Sherer was sedated for hypothermia treatments to reduce any damage to his brain caused by the lack of oxygen flow, but he opened his eyes and was responsive Friday afternoon, Fyfe said. Doctors were hopeful for his recovery, Lowe said.
Photo by Jon Anderson
The Hoover Fire Department has about 30 to 35 cases of cardiac arrest in a year, and, sadly, typically only about five of those survive, Lowe said. The average survival rate in the United States for cardiac arrests outside a hospital was 12 percent in 2016, according to the American Heart Association.
Fyfe, a 56-year-old from the Atlanta suburb of Flowery Branch, Georgia, said he was thankful it had only been a few months since he took the CPR course because the procedures were still fresh on his mind.
“I thought I wouldn’t ever really use it,” he said. And he especially didn’t imagine performing CPR on a friend, he said. “I’ve known Roger forever. He’s a brother to me. I didn’t even think twice about doing it.”
However, Fyfe said he broke down in the parking lot of Rooms To Go after Sherer was taken away. “It was just too much to handle,” he said.
He’s so glad his union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, offered the free CPR training, he said.
Ironically, while Fyfe was stuck in traffic on the way to St. Vincent’s Birmingham to check on Sherer, he received an email on his phone telling him the union is offering CPR training again this weekend.
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” he said.
He shared the news with friends, and some of them plan to take the CPR class this Sunday after hearing what happened with Sherer, he said.
The assistant director of the TV commercial he was shooting on Thursday morning encouraged other crew members to get certified as well. Fyfe said there were about 70 people on hand when Sherer went down, and it would have been much easier to administer the CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if he had a partner to help.
Photo by Jon Anderson
Hoover EMS Officer Rusty Lowe
Lowe, who also responded to the cardiac arrest call, said it was an overwhelming scene when he arrived. As paramedics were tending to Sherer, the room was full of people yet strangely quiet. Some people were praying; others spoke to Sherer, calling on him to pull through, Lowe said.
“I’ve been a paramedic for 35 years now, and it was one of the most smooth calls I’ve been in,” he said.
He hopes this incident will help people realize the importance of getting trained in CPR, he said.Pulse CPR News:
The Hoover Fire Department offers American Heart Association CPR certification classes for the general public on the first, second and third Saturdays of each month at Hoover Fire Station No. 7 at 100 Inverness Parkway, off Valleydale Road near U.S. 280.Pulse CPR News: