Austin Pritchett is passionate about his work. Like many in the EMS profession, the Sumter County AMR EMT doesn’t believe he’s ever really off duty, even when he is. Such was the case on a day in mid-November when Pritchett was attending his parents’ last bowling match for the season.
“My parents are retired, and they were having their league’s last game for the year,” Pritchett says. “I wasn’t planning on going but, in the end, decided to watch it.”
While his parents’ game was getting interesting, Pritchett noticed someone bowling 300, a perfect game, on a nearby lane.
“The member was getting excited over his perfect score, and then, like ten minutes later, it seemed like the individual passed out,” he says. “I remember hearing my dad say, ‘looks like the person fell.’”
When the league member didn’t get up and Pritchett heard others yell the person is “seizing,” Pritchett made his way to the commotion.
“When I got to the scene, I tried to get the patient to squeeze my hand. I also checked the patient’s pulse by wrist, which was very faint at the time,” he recalls. “Then, I turned the patient over, and saw that the individual’s face was pale and that the patient’s lips were also turning blue. I knew then, the patient was suffering more than a seizure, more like cardiac arrest. I immediately began CPR.”
Pritchett continued the lifesaving intervention for at least seven more minutes until the fire department showed up to transport the patient. Fortunately for the patient, Pritchett was able to retrieve a pulse. He also says the patient began moving, which was another good sign.
The patient was taken to a hospital, where the individual underwent quadruple bypass surgery and received other treatment. Pritchett also visited the patient when they returned home.
“When I got to meet the patient, the individual had no memory they bowled a perfect 300 game, recalls Pritchett. “The patient was more than grateful. The individual thanked me multiple times, wanted a photo with me and kept saying they wouldn’t be alive today had it not been for my actions. Even the doctor said it was a miracle that the patient survived.”
Still, with all the praise and words of gratitude bestowed on him, Pritchett sums up his service that day as business as usual.
“I did my job,” he says without any hesitation. “What can I say, my job is never really over. I’m a workaholic and I love what I do.”
Pritchett’s father, David Pritchett, who watched his son saved his league member’s life, says he couldn’t be prouder of his son that day.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am of him,” he says. “He ignored everyone around him when they were saying the patient suffered a seizure. He did his assessments like a true EMS professional and, as a result, saved a life. It makes me so happy as a parent to know my son is doing not only what he loves, but also what he does best — helping people and saving lives.”
Today, Pritchett and the patient he saved are friends, and he hopes to see them again at the bowling alley when his parents’ league gets ready for the next season.
“You could say the situation led to a special bond,” says Pritchett. “The patient wants to take me to dinner when things get more settled. I know I’ll cross paths again with the individual since they bowl with my parents’ league. And who knows, maybe next season if they score a perfect 300, they will remember it without any problem.”