ACPS Staff, Equipment Instrumental in Life-Saving Event
Mountain Ridge Athletic Director, Pivot First Responder Commended for Efforts
Paul Sagal is fortunate to be alive after suffering sudden cardiac arrest while watching his grandson compete at a sporting event at Mountain Ridge High School on January 14, 2020. The quick response to begin CPR and apply the use of the school’s AED by a team of first responders, including Mountain Ridge’s Athletic Director, Dave Hobel, and Pivot Physical Therapy employee, Dylan Mowdy, contributed to the miraculous life saving efforts.
“Everyone just did what they were trained to do,” said Mr. Hobel. Several specially trained technicians who were in the stands that evening, along with Mowdy, had begun to perform emergency measures on Mr. Sagal when Hobel retrieved the AED. “Dylan took over with CPR and applied the AED,” stated Hobel. “It’s amazing, but the training we receive on the use of them is really exactly how they work.” Mr. Sagal ultimately received several rounds of CPR and two AED cycles before regaining a pulse. “Once I heard the AED indicate that no more shocks or chest compressions were needed, I felt a sense of relief that he was going to be ok,” said Hobel. Sagal was stable prior to the arrival of the EMS team.
Mowdy stated, “We are not just at events to take care of the athletes but the patrons and community as well.” He continued, “We are first responders. We are there for anyone and everyone. If the time comes that we must act, we will act without hesitation.” Hobel echoed those sentiments. “It’s amazing how many specially trained technicians were in our gym that night, and everyone just worked together the entire time. It was really just a big team effort.”
Mr. Sagal recently had the opportunity to meet Hobel and Mowdy in person to thank them. “I’m just so grateful that you guys jumped in and were able to be in the right place at the right time,” said Mr. Sagal. “The miracle of it all is that God’s plan was to make sure I was somewhere that I was able to be shocked.” He explained that he almost didn’t attend the match because he was feeling tired. “It’s all part of God’s design, and I’m just so grateful. So grateful that you guys were there, and I just can’t thank you enough.”
Instrumental in arranging this face-to-face reunion was Paul’s wife, Phyllis, who is a teacher at Frost Elementary School. “I am blessed beyond measure to have Paul as my husband for nearly 37 years, and I just want to express my deepest appreciation to not just the responders, but to all those who prayed with me in the moment and for us afterwards.”
Paul’s brother, John who is a retired state trooper, accompanied him to Mountain Ridge to meet Hobel and Mowdy. He recalled arriving at the scene and thinking that his brother wasn’t going to make it. “By the time I got there he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. I thought that was it.” Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. John continued, “So many times in our professions we go to trainings and feel like here we go again with another CE event, until an event like this happens and all that goes out the door. You resort back to your training, and a life is saved.”
Allegany County Public Schools began installing Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools in 2013 and now has 71 AEDs throughout the county. Each school has at least one device, and every athletic team has an AED that travels with them. Additionally, many school system employees, including health and physical education teachers, coaches, custodians, teachers, and administrators, are trained and certified in CPR, First Aid, and on the use of AEDs. “All these training events pay off, and my brother’s situation is proof of the need for them. I hope everyone takes them seriously,” said John.
“To my knowledge, the AEDs have never been used, but this justifies having them in the buildings,” said Mountain Ridge principal, Mr. Danny Carter. “It only takes one person, one time, to make them worth it.”
The school system has contracted with Pivot Physical Therapy since 2017 to provide certified athletic trainers, certified by the Board of Certification or the National Athletic Trainers Association, during athletic events and practices. These Pivot employees are skilled in the practice of preventing, recognizing, assessing, managing, treating, and reconditioning of athletic injuries.
“Serving the community is one of our core values,” said Chris Throckmorton, CEO of Pivot Health Solutions. “It is great to see one of our employees take the initiative and help save a life. Stories like this make me so proud to be a part of this organization.”
Paul Sagal has since received a new pacemaker with a defibrillator and is recovering well. “I’m healing well, and my chest is feeling a lot better, but I can deal with that. I’m just really grateful that Mr. Hobel and Mr. Mowdy and the other first responders were on the scene and that they were able to do what they were trained to do.”
February is American Heart Month, and is an ideal time to remind Americans to focus on their hearts and encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their health conditions. For more helpful tips to improve your chances of living to an older age, visit www.heart.org.