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When every second counts

Sergeant Robert Gibson (center) is surrounded by (clockwise) Andrew Martin, Vice President Mary Lou Merkt, President Elizabeth Davis and Gibson's wife, Carol.

The morning of Saturday, February 10, was like any ordinary day for Sergeant Robert Gibson. Until it wasn’t. As a member of the Furman University Police Department, Gibson found himself using his life-saving, first-responder skills on an unresponsive guest who had collapsed after participating in a race at Furman.

The call came at 10:14 a.m.  Gibson was dispatched to the front of Eugene Stone Soccer Stadium where a student was performing CPR on a gentleman who was not breathing. The 57- year-old male, Andrew Martin, had been participating in the Green Valley Road Race, a long-running Greenville Track Club event, which starts on the Furman campus.

Quickly assessing that the runner was in cardiac arrest, Gibson swung into action, removing the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) from his medical pack, and applying the AED pads to the patient’s chest.

The AED analyzed the heart rhythm and delivered a shock to the patient. After Gibson continued CPR for two minutes, the AED reanalyzed the rhythm and administered another shock.

A second bystander provided rescue breathing to the downed runner while Gibson continued chest compressions to keep oxygen flowing to vital organs until the arrival of the Travelers Rest Fire Department and Greenville County EMS, whose responders were able to stabilize Martin and transport him to the hospital.

Martin, who would likely have died without the swift response of bystanders and police, is now expected to fully recover and is back to work after undergoing surgery to insert a stent into a blocked artery. He also attended a special ceremony on campus at Cherrydale Alumni House March 27, where Gibson received a Letter of Commendation and Life Saving Award for his actions.

“This story could have had a very different ending absent the intervention of two Furman students and Sergeant Gibson,” said Furman Chief of Police John Milby. “Because of Sergeant Gibson’s quick reaction and the use of the AED/CPR training provided to him, the life of a man was saved. These actions exemplify the service to our community that ensures the well-being of our students, staff, faculty and visitors to Furman.”

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