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PCOM Students To Be Honored For Heroism

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PHILADELPHIA -

Often in life, it's not just what happens to you.

When it happens, and where can make all the difference.

A local victim of a medical emergency is alive and well, thanks to bystanders who were ready and able to help.

37-year-old Derek Smith works in the finance office at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Despite an irregular heartbeat and enlarged ventricle, Smith figured his usual game of pick-up basketball qualified as allowable, "moderate" exercise.

He was wrong, and very nearly dead wrong.

"It's a little eerie...a little weird..." Derek explained during his first visit to the basketball court where he nearly died last December, on Friday the 13th.

"We were going back and forth up and down the court,” he began to say, “ And I went and took a shot, and I turned around, and I don't remember anything after turning around. That's it."

Smith had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, collapsing, and concussing himself as he hit the floor.

"I just heard like a sound like somebody's voice in agony and then a loud thump," recalls Derek's friend Kyle Kienath.

Kyle and his buddies Joe Yoha and Robert Gitman, second year medical students at PCOM, were one court over playing in their own pick-up game to relieve the stress of end of semester medical tests.

They raced over to Smith.

"Unconscious. Definitely. Trying to breath, like respiratory efforts," Robert Gitman describes Derek’s initial condition as he recalls the events of that day.

A weakened pulse disappeared entirely, as one of the students raced to the gym lobby to grab an Automated External Defibrillator.

They hooked it up and twice used it to shock Smith's heart back to a normal beat.

The others took turns compressing the victim's chest.

"Pushing in with straight hands and enough force to go, I believe it was three or four inches deep into the chest cavity," Kyle says.

By the time the ambulance arrived to race Smith to the hospital, he was already improving.

Smith has made a full recovery-, thanks to those students.

We knew what to do and we knew how to do it," Joe Yoha says, before describing how surprised he was in his own abilities, “I've never been in a situation like this before."

Smith is on the sidelines these days watching the game he once played, but counting his blessings, for the young who were at the right place at the right time.

When asked if he though he would be here without the actions of those three students, Derek replied, "Oh, I know it. I know it. My doctors told me."

Smith, a married father of three, will be on hand when those medical students receive the American Heart Association's Heart Saver Hero Award, on Monday Morning.

Often in life, it's not just what happens to you.

When it happens, and where can make all the difference.

A local victim of a medical emergency is alive and well, thanks to bystanders who were ready and able to help.

37-year-old Derek Smith works in the finance office at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Despite an irregular heartbeat and enlarged ventricle, Smith figured his usual game of pick-up basketball qualified as allowable, "moderate" exercise.

He was wrong, and very nearly dead wrong.

"It's a little eerie...a little weird..." Derek explained during his first visit to the basketball court where he nearly died last December, on Friday the 13th.

"We were going back and forth up and down the court,” he began to say, “ And I went and took a shot, and I turned around, and I don't remember anything after turning around. That's it."

Smith had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, collapsing, and concussing himself as he hit the floor.

"I just heard like a sound like somebody's voice in agony and then a loud thump," recalls Derek's friend Kyle Kienath.

Kyle and his buddies Joe Yoha and Robert Gitman, second year medical students at PCOM, were one court over playing in their own pick-up game to relieve the stress of end of semester medical tests.

They raced over to Smith.

"Unconscious. Definitely. Trying to breath, like respiratory efforts," Robert Gitman describes Derek’s initial condition as he recalls the events of that day.

A weakened pulse disappeared entirely, as one of the students raced to the gym lobby to grab an Automated External Defibrillator.

They hooked it up and twice used it to shock Smith's heart back to a normal beat.

The others took turns compressing the victim's chest.

"Pushing in with straight hands and enough force to go, I believe it was three or four inches deep into the chest cavity," Kyle says.

By the time the ambulance arrived to race Smith to the hospital, he was already improving.

Smith has made a full recovery-, thanks to those students.

We knew what to do and we knew how to do it," Joe Yoha says, before describing how surprised he was in his own abilities, “I've never been in a situation like this before."

Smith is on the sidelines these days watching the game he once played, but counting his blessings, for the young who were at the right place at the right time.

When asked if he though he would be here without the actions of those three students, Derek replied, "Oh, I know it. I know it. My doctors told me."

Smith, a married father of three, will be on hand when those medical students receive the American Heart Association's Heart Saver Hero Award, on Monday Morning.

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