Greenville woman says if she didn’t know CPR her husband wouldn’t be alive

EMS workers say the immediate CPR likely saved her husband’s life after he experienced a heart attack.
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - It was a crisp spring evening in April. Jay Kirkman and his wife, Mindy, were heading out to dinner in downtown Greenville. Everything appeared as normal.

“We met up with our friend Phillip and his wife,” Jay Kirkman said. “We were early and so I said let’s still down. We will wait a few minutes before we go in.”

Phillip is one of Mindy’s co-workers at the YMCA. They were all having a great time, but then Mindy noticed something was seriously wrong with her husband.

“We looked over and Jay was suddenly pale and white as a sheet,” Mindy Kirkman said. “His eyes were bugged out and he was slumped down.”

Jay was sitting on a bench experiencing a widowmaker heart attack. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this happens when there is a blockage in the biggest artery of the heart. This is where the heart receives 50% of it blood supply. Immediate treatment is needed for a person to survive.

“I yelled out to the crowd and asked someone to call 911,” Mindy Kirkman said. “I put him down on the ground. I started rescue breaths and Phillip did chest compressions.”

Mindy and Phillip both knew CPR because they received training for it at their jobs with the YMCA.

“A bystander came by, tapped me on the shoulder and said I am a nurse, let me take over,” Phillip Phillips said. “That is when I stepped up and then helped control the crowd.”

Strangers, family and friends all helped to save his life. EMS workers say the immediate response made all the difference.

“They said if Philip and I had not performed that function he would not be here today,” Mindy Kirkman said. “He had a widow-maker heart attack, which few people survive from and most who do have some sort of neurological damage.”

That is the other miracle in this story. Jay experienced no neurological damage from his heart attack. He credits it to the quick response and his consistent workouts.

“I don’t miss days,” Jay Kirkman said. “I go to the YMCA three times a week. I play table tennis.”

Now the couple can continue to enjoy their date nights for many years to come.

“The truth is, if I hadn’t known CPR and Phillip hadn’t been here to help he wouldn’t be here today,” Mindy Kirkman said. “Jay is only 65 years old and I wasn’t ready to lose him.”

There are several places that hold CPR training classes for the public. Click the links below for times, dates and fees.

Red Cross

Greenville Technical College

American Heart Association