South Australia masters official is given CPR 16 times, survives

George White with sports medicine trainer (and savior) Shirley Wright.

George White with sports medicine trainer (and savior) Shirley Wright. Keryn Stevens photo

The president of masters athletics in South Australia is George White. Call him a pre-Christmas miracle. “White had just finished a 1000m race walk when he suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him,” reports an Adelaide newspaper. “The 72-year-old athlete does not remember much of that day last month at SA Athletics Stadium. One thing White, of Blackwood, does recall is how grateful he felt for the efforts of masters association sports medicine trainer Shirley Wright after waking up in hospital. Wright performed CPR on White 16 times to help revive him.” He said: “She was the one that basically kept me alive until the paramedics arrived. I finished the race then went over to take my duties as starter for the rest of the events and went down to start the 60m sprints (as a race official). I apparently started one without any problems and lined up the competitors for the second event, put my gun in the air and then keeled over.”

The rest of the story for posterity:

White has had a stent put in one of his arteries and has a bruised chest but is on the mend and hopeful of returning to competition next year.

“It was a bit scary for my wife and she didn’t know what to do, so left it to the professionals and they did a great job,” he says.

Wright, who has worked with the SA Masters Athletics Association for 13 years, says adrenaline took over but the image of White during the ordeal still frightens her.

“He wasn’t breathing, his eyes were open and dilated and that’s something you don’t forget,” Wright, of Lockleys, says.

“He didn’t come to and was completely out of it when the ambulance got there.

“They (ambulance officers) had to zap him four times and it took quite a long time for them to stabilise George to shift him to hospital.”

Wright says White rang her four days later, sent her two emails and went to the track last week to give her a big thank you hug.

“We’ve had an exceptionally happy ending,” she says.

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December 21, 2017

4 Responses

  1. Bill Pontius - December 22, 2017

    Wonderful outcome to a scary story! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

  2. David E. Ortman (M64), Seattle, WA - December 23, 2017

    Under Regulation 23.A.7 and B.4, USATF shall grant international or domestic sanctions (that’s a good thing) for athletic competition in the US that meet certain requirements including:

    Medical: It has established that proper medical supervision will be provided for athletes who will participate in the competition;

    See: 2017 USATF Bylaws and Operating Regulations—Operating-Regulations.aspx

    This is one rule that definitely could be a lifesaver and a reason to look for USATF sanctioned meets.

  3. George Mathews - January 21, 2018

    This is a wonderful success story. The BEST it can be to save a life.
    Besides having a competent medical professional at every meet, which isn’t always possible, every meet of any kind should have have a an automated external defibrillator (AED) on site. There are accounts of Masters athletes being saved at US track meets where CPR didn’t work.
    Reasonably priced at around $1,200 at Amazon, Costco, Phillips and others. The machine does the diagnostics automatically and tells user what to do or not do. Doesn’t require specialized training necessarily but would be wise for all meet management and officials to be aware of its location at a meet and be familiarized with operation.

  4. Russ Dickenson - March 19, 2018

    I should mention, Ken, that George is much more than an Official and Administrator. He won 2 Golds in Buffalo Worlds all those years ago and I’m pretty sure he won Gold again as recently as Lyon, with probably more in between. A top athlete and a top fella.

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