The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Whitney and Hunter Amos use ‘instinct’ to provide CPR|
Franklin County High School boys’ tennis coach Mike Amos poses with his daughter, Whitney, and son, Hunter, both of whom are tennis players.
Friday, August 10, 2012
By STEVEN MARSH - Staff Writer
As tennis players, brother and sister Hunter and Whitney Amos understand performing under pressure when facing game, set and match points.
But the situation they encountered on the night of July 30 presented a different kind of pressure, one that separates life from death.
Raising the level of tension was the fact that their father, Franklin County boys' tennis coach Mike Amos, was in full cardiac arrest in his bedroom.
"It was a really scary thing that we went through," Whitney said.
"I heard my mother scream, 'Call 9-1-1, call 9-1-1.' I ran (in the bedroom) and my dad was purple and blue,' Hunter said. "I checked his pulse and he had none. So I started giving him CPR."
Albeit scared, both brother and sister reacted with precision.
"I noticed that his tongue was really swollen and he couldn't breath. I told my mom to get a spoon to hold his tongue down,' Hunter said.
"My mom was panicking, so I went and got the spoon. His airways were blocked because there was a build-up of mucus, then I started giving him mouth to mouth (resuscitation) while Hunter did the chest compressions," said Whitney.
The two had never performed CPR before, nor had they taken a class in the life-saving technique.
"We just did it. It came to us,' Whitney said.
"It was a situation and we had to respond,' Hunter added, 'and we naturally responded.'
"I'd taken an AP (Advanced Placement) biology class (in high school), so I knew a little bit about how the heart works," Whitney said.
They both related the situation to facing pressure on the tennis court. And the past seasons for both high school students were filled with more than their fair share of pressure situations. Whitney, 18, was the No. 1 singles player for the FCHS squad that made an unexpected run to the Group AAA state semifinals. And Hunter, 17, a rising high school senior, played for the Eagles boys' squad, coached by his dad, that qualified for the Northwest Regionals for the first time in school history.
Once the boys' season was finished, Mike Amos became an off-court advisor and cheerleader for Whitney, who graduated in June and heads to George Mason University in Fairfax later this month.
"This (the heart attack) was more than a game. It was life,' Whitney said. "Dad always tells us in tennis not to panic, to stay calm. I just took a deep breath like I do on a big serve and did what I had to do."
"My mother and my little sister were really upset so we kept them out of the room,' she added.
Hunter said he relied on his experiences from the hardcourts. He said playing tennis has helped him learn better breathing techniques, so he, too, was able to stay calm before emergency personnel arrived at their Rocky Mount home seven minutes later.
The EMTs were admittedly surprised that neither Whitney nor Hunter had ever taken CPR classes, Whitney said, 'and the doctors told us at the hospital that had we not given (my dad) CPR, he would not have made it."
"They (the doctors) said we did exceptionally well, like someone certified would have done it. They asked us where we learned it,' Whitney said.
"In scary moments, people can do heroic things,' Hunter said. "My adrenaline was off (the chart) more than it was during any tennis match.'
"I don't think I came back to earth for three days,' Whitney added.
Mike Amos is on the road to recovery in Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He said he has no memory of what happened that night other than not feeling well. "I just didn't feel right,' he said, "and I was pacing the floor. Other than that, I had no warning that something was amiss.'
"Earlier that night, he was walking up a big hill (near our home) looking at the storm. "(His heart attack) was sudden and unexpected,' Whitney said.
During Amos' recovery, the family moved into the hospital to be at his bedside.
"I slept in the windowsill, on the couch. Hunter didn't even sleep some nights. He stayed up with dad,' Whitney said.
Mike Amos, 54, has a history of heart problems. He was born with a congenital heart disorder and first had surgery in 1967 when he was a child to repair a "hole in my heart.' In 2006, he was sent to the University of Virginia hospital because of an infection in his heart. At the time, he was an assistant freshmen boys' basketball coach at FCHS, and he missed the spring boys' tennis campaign.
"This incident (on July 30) was unrelated (to his former problems). There was 100 percent blockage in one of his arteries," Whitney said.
Mike Amos said he knows he faces changes in his lifestyle because of his recent brush with death.
"Some of my living habits are going to have to change -- medication, a stricter diet and exercise. That's okay. I'm ready to face the challenge. It's just the Eagle blood in me,' he said.
Hunter, Whitney and the rest of the family are on the road to recovery and normalcy, too.
"I won't be back to normal for a while. Dad hasn't fully recovered. He faces lots of (cardiac) therapy,' Whitney said. "...His heart is still weak.'
"I don't think of myself as heroic," she added. "I did what I had to do in that situation."
"I'll do anything for my dad, anything. I did what I had to do to save my dad,' Hunter added.