ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - You may remember the annual chili cook-off at Athens High School back in late February. That was the day Mack Rainey met the members of the Oak Grove/Thatch Volunteer Fire Department. He hadn't planned on meeting them, and didn't necessarily want to. But now Mack says he is forever grateful that he did.
Mack Rainey's daughter was one of the contestants in the Hospice of Limestone County Annual Chili Challenge, and he was there that Saturday, February 28th, to help her. Among the other contestants were the members of the Oak Grove/Thatch Junior Volunteer Fire Department. They, along with more than 30 other teams, were all vying for the coveted title of best chili in town.
Toward the end of the day, Mr. Rainey brought some of the supplies out here to the parking lot to load into his car. Coincidentally, some of the members of the junior fire department were also here in the parking lot. They were helping someone else load up their supplies. It's a good thing. They saw Mr. Rainey collapse, and they sprang into action."
"We was walking in, we heard coughing and looked over and he fell," Devin McLemore tells WHNT News 19. The boys ran inside and got EMT Lara Walker. She started CPR on Rainey, and and told others to call for help.
Those listening to the scanner that day heard the call, "911 Athens Fire, you have a possible full arrest, Athens High School parking lot."
Rainey's heart had stopped beating. While Lara continued to perform CPR, someone else ran back into the school for the A-E-D. The machine read his condition and twice shocked him until his heart was beating again. By the time he arrived at the hospital, he not only had a pulse, but was sitting up and talking to the paramedics.
Monday night, Rainey visited the Oak Grove/Thatch Fire Department to meet the people who had saved his life, and to say thank you.
"I can't thank y'all enough, I mean everyone of you. I don't know how to thank you, you know," Rainey told the assembled volunteers.
"Just keep in touch with us, that's good enough," one said.
"Oh I will, and I sure appreciate it."
Mack Rainey lives, thanks to a group of good samaritans who thought enough to do what was needed, and thanks to a little device that had never been used before, that hangs on the wall at Athens High.
By the way, former State Senator Tom Butler is responsible for many of Alabama's schools having an A-E-D, including the one at Athens High School. There's currently a bill before the state legislature that would buy even more of the life saving devices.
One other note, the membership elected Rainey an honorary member of the Oak Grove/Thatch Volunteer Fire Department Monday night.
-- Al Whitaker