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VU family shows CPR street smarts

Jul. 11, 2013, 8:50 AM

Pastor Rob Taylor, center, poses with Mark Schoenfield, Ph.D., chair of VU’s Department of English, right, and his son, Michael. The Schoenfields performed CPR on Taylor after he collapsed near his home. (photo by Steve Green)

Mark Schoenfield, Ph.D., chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of English, and his family were a little behind schedule a few weeks ago as they prepared to drive from their home in Hillsboro Village to the airport. One of his sons was having some trouble getting his golf clubs to fit in the trunk of the car.

This slight delay may have saved Pastor Rob Taylor’s life.

Schoenfield backed the car out of his driveway and began to pull forward when his wife, Sarah, and son, Josh, glanced out the rear window and saw a man lying in the street.

Schoenfield slammed on the brakes, and he and Sarah ran to check on the man, who was wearing running attire and had no identification on him. His breathing was shallow and then stopped altogether. Schoenfield started CPR while Josh called 9-1-1. Meanwhile, his other son, Michael, who is a Vanderbilt undergraduate student, and his friend rushed out of the house and took turns doing compressions.

Fortunately, Schoenfield had recently completed a CPR course at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, and Michael had completed one while in high school.
They kept up the compressions until EMS arrived.

“Eight people leapt out of the emergency vehicles. Their level of coordination was extraordinary. I thought ours had been pretty good, too,” Schoenfield said. “We kept our distance and didn’t know if our efforts had succeeded.”

The patient, 47-year-old Pastor Rob Taylor, was transported to Vanderbilt, where he was admitted to the cardiovascular intensive care unit and was diagnosed with sudden cardiac death. An avid runner and otherwise perfectly healthy, Taylor’s heart had suddenly and unexplainably stopped working as he finished a 7-mile run on his street.

Interestingly, Mark Schoenfield suffered a cardiac event 18 months ago on that same street while walking to wrestling practice, falling to the ground about 30 feet from where he found Taylor.

After he dropped his family off at the airport, Schoenfield returned home later that day to find a handwritten note on his porch from Taylor’s assistant pastor. Now that he knew the patient’s identity, Schoenfield was able to visit Taylor in his hospital room the next day.

“I see you’re still lying down but you look a hell of a lot better,” Schoenfield said to Taylor.

“We have received amazing care,” said Taylor’s wife, Lou. “Everybody on the fifth floor, the nurses especially, worked tirelessly with him. For the first 48 hours he was so critical. One of his nurses, Josh Pane, never sat down for two nights.

“I have every doctor and nurse’s name: Dr. Rob Piana, Josh Payne, R.N., Mary Heard, Callie Hancock, Amy Teg, R.N., and Hannah Gluck. They worked their butts off when he was most critical.”

Taylor, the pastor at Calvary Chapel Brentwood, was discharged home on June 28 with an internal defibrillator. It turns out that he lives six doors down from Schoenfield.

“I am very proud of my family. For myself, I feel most proud of having got the CPR training in advance. Anyone in that situation would do anything they could. But if you happen to be there, it would be awful not to be CPR-trained,” Schoenfield said. “To have a Vanderbilt father-son team perform it together was kind of cool.”

Vanderbilt Heart offers free educational classes about the New CPR: Chest Compressions Only. Visit for class times and locations.

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