UNG students who saved man's life honored at ceremony
Jamie Whitacre and cadet Isiah Hunt were recently honored by the university for their actions.
"This event symbolizes what UNG is – people caring about people," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs during the ceremony. "We are blessed to have incredibly bright students, and it is symbolic that we have here today a civilian and a cadet together to be recognized, as our military program is the bedrock upon which we build many traditions, including our tradition to be prepared."
During the ceremony on May 1, Chief Justin Gaines of UNG's Department of Public Safety presented the students with the university's first-ever Department of Public Safety Lifesaving Award "because of their rapid response and service to the university community."
On March 24, Smart and his wife, Barbara, were on their way to the David Brothers Jazz Trio concert when he began feeling dizzy and blacked out. According to Smart, what had the initial appearance of a heart attack turned out to be a failure of his body's electrical system, which in turn stopped his heart. Hearing cries for help, Whitacre, followed soon after by Hunt, rushed to Smart's aid and began CPR.
Whitacre was nearby, seated outside the Hoag Student Center. She said that when she heard screams she immediately ran to the scene.
As a camp counselor, Whitacre is certified in CPR through Red Cross. She administered CPR to Smart while other bystanders fanned out to find more help. One of those bystanders ran inside the Hoag Student Center and asked if anyone inside was an EMT or had similar medical training.
Hunt, a certified EMT who also trains as a field medic in the Corps of Cadets, was there eating and ran to the scene and took over for Whitacre.
"I didn't hesitate when I heard someone yelling for an EMT," Hunt said. "When I took over for Jamie, Mr. Smart began breathing in shallow breaths called 'guppy breathing,' but when I stopped CPR he would get worse and stop breathing altogether."
About 10 minutes after Smart collapsed, Lumpkin County emergency services arrived on the scene to take over and transport Smart to a hospital, where he was later revived. Doctors dubbed him a miracle man, and said the only reason he survived is because of the immediate care he received from the students.
Hunt traveled to the hospital several times to check on Smart, but didn't know his name, and so was not allowed access to see him. The May 1 ceremony honoring the students' efforts was the first time either of them had really met Smart and his wife.