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Parks and Rec employee recognized for saving a life
7-Man recognized pic 1 Updated
County Manager Cindy Campbell presents Dawson County Parks and Recreation employee Billy Mahaffey, center, with a copy of the proclamation detailing his act of giving CPR to Harold Evans, who had a heart attack at Rock Creek Park in January. Evans, far right, was present to give his thanks to Mahaffey during his formal recognition by the county. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Harold Evans doesn't think he would be alive today if it weren't for Dawson County Parks and Recreation employee Billy Mahaffey.

"Billy really deserves all the credit for saving my life," said the 67-year-old Dawson County man. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. Billy keeps an eye on all of us walkers."

Evans is part of a group of walkers that do laps each morning at the Rock Creek Park gym at 6:30 a.m. sharp.

He and his wife, Sarah, have been walking at the park for five years.

"Everything was normal that morning. We got [to the park] at our regular time and I had been walking about 15 minutes and I came through one of the ball court doors," Evans said. "All at once, I just stopped and collapsed. I don't remember anything."

Evans was having a heart attack. His wife and close friend Peggy Anderson managed to catch him and lower him to the floor.

"Peggy and my wife caught me on the way down to keep me from banging my head on the floor," Evans said. "Peggy started giving me chest compressions. She knew what she was doing, but she was small and I was a lot bigger."

Anderson, who received her CPR training as a bus driver, said that she thought her friend was going to die when she initially saw his condition.

"I thought he was going to go," she said. "It was bad. His skin was pale and cold."

While Anderson was giving chest compressions, Evans' wife was giving him mouth-to-mouth.

"I was in shock at first but then I asked God to help focus me, because I needed to help him," Anderson said. "I had CPR training before so I just began to give him oxygen."

That's when Mahaffey stepped in.

"I saw she wasn't able to press hard enough on his chest," he said. "You have to press hard for CPR."

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, requires the user to rhythmically simulate the pumping of blood to and from the heart until emergency medical assistance can be rendered.

"I came around the corner and saw she wasn't pressing hard enough. I said ‘Y'all need to move and let me in here and do CPR on him,'" Mahaffey said. "It wasn't a little while later that the ambulance showed up and the paramedics took over. I've been CPR trained ever since I've been with the park, which is coming up on 13 years. I've never had to do it before, thank the Lord."

Evans' wife said that her husband began to revive as the paramedics arrived, thanks to Mahaffey.

"He would open his eyes and look around and then close them and we'd tell him: ‘No, Harold, stay with us. You've got to stay with us,'" she said.

The paramedics defibulated Evans once they arrived and took him to the hospital, where he remained for a few days.

Evans said that he found some humor in being saved by CPR.

"I was the head of first aid and CPR training for the American Red Cross Northeast Georgia Chapter for five years," he said. "I taught 10,000 hours of first aid and CPR training, but little did I know, I was the one that ended up needing it."

Now, though, Evans said that Mahaffey is always sure to check up on him before moving on to any other work at the park.

"When I come in during the mornings, Billy now makes it a point to come over and ask if I'm alright this morning," he said. "He always makes sure that I'm done walking before he leaves to work on other things, now."