Coworker Uses CPR to Save Heart Attack Victim

July 29, 2016
George Rich Blog

You don't have to be a doctor to save someone's life with CPR. George Holowaty, a food services coordinator at NHRMC, knows firsthand.

When he had a heart attack in the NHRMC cafeteria on July 22, 2015, it wasn't a doctor or paramedic who first came to his rescue. It was Rich McCormick, a manager with environmental services.

When Rich heard a Code Gray announced in the cafeteria, he rushed from his office to help. When he saw his friend George on the floor, he knelt down to initiate CPR. He asked staff to call Code Blue as he continued to pump George's chest.

Emergency clinicians rushed to the scene from the opposite side of the hospital.  In a blur of adrenaline, Rich kept pumping. Finally, he felt George's pulse for the first time. Seconds later, the Emergency Department team joined Rich in the life-saving effort, using the automated external defibrillator (AED) to help restart George's heart.

Less than an hour later, George was in the critical care unit, recovering from a blockage in an artery ominously referred to as the widowmaker.

With a year to reflect on his near-death experience, George is still astounded at the help he received from Rich and the NHRMC staff.

"Their level of skill and efficiency still gets to me," George said. "I have no business sitting here."

Ten days after the incident, George returned to work, and though he missed a few beats, he looked as fit, healthy and much younger than his age of 63.

And he has a deep appreciation for his coworkers, who demonstrated their concern during George's ordeal.

"Everyone here has been nothing but awesome to me," George said. "I'm humbled still by their kindness and thoughtfulness."

A living testament

George is a living testament to the importance of hands-only CPR.

When an adult has a sudden cardiac arrest, his or her chances of survival greatly increase if someone nearby can immediately perform CPR. Unfortunately, fewer than 1/3 of those people who experience a cardiac arrest at home, work or in a public location get that help. To encourage more people to step in and help, the American Heart Association has simplified the CPR recommendations.

You can save a life

New Hanover Regional Medical Center's Emergency Medical Services team is asking you to be a lifesaver by learning Hands-Only CPR.

Hands-Only CPR, performed by a bystander when they witness a cardiac arrest, has been shown to be as effective as "conventional" CPR in emergencies that occur at home, work or in public. There are only three steps to remember:

  • Call 911
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest
  • Utilize AED if available

Learn more about Hands Only CPR here

Learn firsthand

If you are interested in learning Hands Only CPR, email



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