Pittsburgh police officer, ex-Army medic, ticket scalper and hotel bellhop saved Penguins fan
February 27, 2013 6:25 PM
Pittsburgh police Officer Forrest Hodges describes Wednesday how he helped save a man having a heart attack outside of the Consol Energy Center last week.
By Kaitlynn Riely The Pittsburgh Press
More than one good Samaritan was outside the Consol Energy Center last week.
There was an off-duty Pittsburgh police officer, an ex-Army medic taking his son to his first Penguins game, a ticket scalper and a hotel bellhop.
They were among the first to respond Friday night when a Penguins fan suffered a heart attack on his way to a game at the Consol Energy Center: All stopped what they were doing to save the life of a stranger.
Police officer talks about saving Penguins fan
Forrest Hodges, the Pittsburgh police officer who helped save the life of a Penguins fan Friday near the Consol Energy Center, talks publicly for the first time about his actions. (Video by Kalea Hall; 2/27/2013)
"It was a good refresher in humanity, I'll say that," said Freddie Waine, the former medic. "Because a lot of people could have kept walking by, and they didn't. They helped out."
Mr. Waine, 29, of Washington, Pa., is a state corrections officer who is pursuing a doctorate in psychology, and until 2010, he was an Army medic in the Pennsylvania National Guard, completing two tours in Iraq.
On Friday night, he was taking his 6-year-old to the boy's first Penguins game. They were walking toward the arena when Mr. Waine saw a man collapse into the arms of the woman walking beside him.
Forrest Hodges saw it, too. Officer Hodges, whose primary job is as the community relations officer for the Pittsburgh Zone 1 police station, was working an off-duty detail Friday night. He was near the Consol Energy Center, standing near Centre Avenue and Washington Place, as fans streamed by to see the Penguins play the Florida Panthers.
He heard a woman cry out in distress about 5:15 p.m. When he turned around, he saw her about three feet away. She caught the man she was with -- Officer Hodges described the man as being in his mid-60s -- as he collapsed.
Officer Hodges and Mr. Waine, who both complete regular training in CPR as a requirement for their respective jobs, ran to the man.
"It was just milliseconds later that the guy's shade of color changed and we knew he was in distress," Officer Hodges said Wednesday at a news conference at the Zone 1 police station. The man had no pulse and wasn't breathing, Mr. Waine said.
Officer Hodges started chest compressions while Mr. Waine checked for a pulse and kept the man's airway open. There was a moment when Officer Hodges thought the man had died.
An ambulance was called, and officers from Zone 2, including Lt. Vic Joseph, arrived at the scene. A call went out for a defibrillator, and someone ran to the Consol arena to get one.
A person described in the police report of the event as a scalper got to the Marriott City Center hotel first and alerted a bellhop, who rushed over the hotel's defibrillator. The rescuers' combined efforts worked: the man, David Allen, 66, of Beaver, gasped for breath.
He was taken to UPMC Mercy for treatment, where he was listed Wednesday in good condition.
"Emotionally, I don't have the words to explain how happy I am that this man survived," Officer Hodges said.
Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney, who sat with Officer Hodges at the Zone 1 police station Wednesday as he recounted the event, said the story was a positive one for a bureau that has been the subject of negative attention, including last week's dismissal of the police chief amid a federal investigation into management of funds.
"Even in spite of swirling headlines, our officers continue to perform with excellence," she said.
The day after the rescue, the man's daughter-in-law found Mr. Waine on Facebook, he said. She told him that the man he saved was a father of two, grandfather of six, and a Vietnam veteran, and she thanked him.