Two JSU students save man’s life

Timberly McRae (left) and Sophia Ferguson (right) are the two JSU students who performed CPR on a maintenance worker on Feb. 16. Photo courtesy of Abigail Harrison.

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

When Timberly McRae and Sophia Ferguson got ready for class on Feb. 16, they did not know they would go to bed having saved someone’s life that day.

McRae and Ferguson, both juniors and early childhood education majors at JSU, said they knew something was wrong when a man came into the room where they were doing a teacher workshop and asked, “Does anyone know CPR?”

The two girls quickly jumped into action to perform life-saving procedures on a maintenance worker who was severely injured after being shocked by an electrical wire while working in Jim Case Stadium.

The girls said they just happened to be at the baseball stadium at the right time on that day because every other classroom was unavailable to host the teacher workshop. 

“Everything on-campus was full, and we couldn’t have class anywhere else. So, the baseball coach let us have the team meeting room to have the workshop,” McRae said.

McRae, who is a dispatcher at Weaver Police Department, said she was recertified for CPR the week before the incident. According to McRae, she immediately started running toward the victim, with Ferguson following shortly behind her. 

As soon as they got to the victim, they said another individual had already started doing CPR but could not continue because of his emotional state. McRae said she took over by doing three sets of chest compressions and then checking the man’s pulse while Ferguson continued performing CPR. 

“We had to open his airway because of the way his head was laying. That was what made him initially stop breathing,” McRae said.

Ferguson, who is a lifeguard and teaches CPR training classes, said that in the moment, it felt like they were performing the life-saving procedures for a long time. Based on the police report of the incident, Micheal Barton, Chief of Police, estimates the girls performed CPR for eight minutes before first-responders arrived.

Ferguson said their professor and a couple of classmates supported them by offering encouraging words while they were saving the worker. She said she stayed calm by playing the song “Staying Alive” in her head.

McRae said all that was going through her head was saving the man.

“In the moment, all that’s going through your mind is keeping him alive. That’s all you can do is just try to keep him alive,” McRae said.

According to the girls, they stopped performing CPR and got out of the way when EMS arrived. Then, the girls washed their hands and went back to class like it was any normal day.

However, they knew their lives were changed forever.

McRae said the situation changed her perspective on CPR. According to her, she had performed CPR in two other situations, but the victims did not survive. 

She said she was very discouraged, but her dad, who is a firefighter, comforted her by saying, “The ones you save will outweigh the ones you lose, and you can’t help it.” McRae said she now understands her dad’s words.

Ferguson said from this day forward, she will carry with her knowing that she can make a difference, even in just one person’s life.

According to the girls, the victim’s family has reached out to them with words of gratitude. McRae said the maintenance man’s wife has been keeping them updated on his condition.

“His wife reached out to me yesterday and said he had third and fourth degree burns on his hands, so he had a regraft. That was the surgery that was done yesterday,” McRae said. “He’s doing really good. He has no brain damage and no heart damage.”

“He’s gonna live. He’s gonna survive this,” Ferguson said.

The girls stressed the importance of knowing CPR because it may save someone’s life one day.

“No one in that building knew except for us, so it’s just like, someone in this building needs to know for if that happened again,” Ferguson said.

According to McRae, because of the incident, their professor told them that next semester, the students in the education program will have the choice to get CPR certified.

Barton commended the girls for their quick and confident reaction and said the medics attributed the worker’s survival to the life-saving procedures they performed. 

“We [UPD] were on the scene in four minutes, so we were there really quick,” Barton said. “But seconds matter in a situation like that. So, for Timberly and Sofia to be able to step up and bridge that gap, that made the difference between life and death that day.”

He also said the girls are a perfect example of what it means to be a Gamecock.

“We truly are the Friendliest Campus in the South, so the actions that y’all conveyed was that y’all got down there and got your hands dirty and worked to save his life,” Barton said. “Today he is alive because of your efforts.”

Barton said he plans to formally recognize the girls for saving a life. He said he is working on developing a heroic actions certificate for civilians, and he would like for them to be the first recipients of the certificate. 

“They didn’t do it because of recognition, they did it because it’s helping someone,” Barton said.

Attempts to reach the other individual who initially performed CPR were unsuccessful.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Two JSU students save man’s life"

Leave a Reply