Man’s life saved by quick action at finish line

Norton Hospital nurse springs into action

Matt Murdock, 23, was nearing the end of this year’s Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and went into a sprint. The race had been postponed due to rain for about an hour and a half, so Murdock, like all runners, was a bit hungry. He also didn’t have anything to drink until the first water stop.

“It was really humid and I was just running on automatic,” Murdock said.

The Lexington, Kentucky, resident had trained well for the race and was no stranger to the distance: He has run a full marathon and three half-marathons before.

“I was doing fine, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I felt like I was going to pass out and went to sit down,” Murdock said.

But he never made it. He went down right in front of Robin Stinson, R.N., who works in the intensive care unit at Norton Hospital. She was there volunteering as part of the medical team for Norton Sports Health, which provides the medical care throughout both the mini and full marathon courses.

“We’re there to keep our eyes open for people who might need help, but it’s usually giving them water or a sports drink,” Stinson said. “Occasionally someone needs help from one of our athletic trainers, physical therapists and other medical staff for cramping.

“I didn’t see Matt cross the finish line but all of a sudden he was there and fell into me. I looked at his eyes and his pupils were dilated. I felt for a pulse but there was none.”

Anthony Spalding, a student at Marion C. Moore High School, grabbed a wheelchair and began supporting Stinson.

Murdock was lowered to the ground and Stinson and another volunteer, Tim Amshoff, athletic trainer from Marion C. Moore, assessed him and started CPR. Others summoned EMS to the scene. Still others from the Norton Sports Health volunteer team, EMS and security helped get other runners past safely as well as provide some privacy for what was happening on the ground.

Stinson and Amshoff continued chest compressions while Spalding grabbed equipment so that Patricia Isaacs, M.D., Norton Community Medical Associates – Clarksville, could administer oxygen. Within about 4 minutes the defibrillator was used. The efforts worked.

“I woke up and they were taking me out,” Murdock said. “I was completely coherent and making jokes in the Norton Hospital ER. Everyone seemed more freaked out than I did.”

Just hours later, the runner and Stinson reunited at the hospital — in the very unit where Stinson has worked since she became a nurse two years ago.

“I was so thankful for what she did,” Murdock said. “I wanted to see the woman who saved my life. You don’t have that happen every day. I’m very grateful and feel so blessed I’m alive.”

After a few tests, a problem with the muscles in Murdock’s heart has been ruled out. The next step is testing with an electrophysiologist.

For Stinson and many of the other volunteers is normal — except it was a different setting.

“This is just what we, as nurses, do almost on a daily basis,” Stinson said. “This is what we’re trained to do, but I’m glad I could be in the right place at the right time to help Matt.”

What is routine for medical providers is something special for the Murdock family.

“Robin is our hero and Matthew’s guardian angel,” said Brenda Murdock, Matt’s mother. “She saved my son’s life.”

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