Act FAST: Phone Call Saves Reporter from Stroke
At first, University of Wyoming Assistant Athletic Director Tim Harkins thought he had a bad cell phone connection. He soon realized that Natalie Meisler, the veteran college football reporter he was speaking with, was having a stroke on the other end of the line.
Meisler was more than 100 miles away, but those involved in the scary situation are saying Harkins' quick response likely saved the reporter's life.
Last week, Harkins—also in charge of media relations at the school—was talking to Meisler on the phone when her sentences began to break up and trail off. Initially he thought a bad cell phone connection was the culprit. Harkins said he was having troubles hearing Meisler but quickly realized she was trying to speak but couldn't make out the words.
"After 30 seconds to a minute of that, I kind of had an idea of what has happening," Harkins told Yahoo Sports.
What happened next likely saved Meisler's life.
Harkins sprang into action by recruiting the help of Assistant Media Relations Director Amy Dambro to look up Meisler's address. She didn't have the info at hand and began calling around to other area colleges to see if she could locate the reporter's home.
Not long after, Dambro reached Senior Associate Athletic Director Gary Ozzello at Colorado State University. Ozzello had worked with Meisler for decades throughout their careers and quickly (within minutes, Yahoo reports) got Dambro the address. Dambro notified the Boulder Police Department and emergency crews were soon on their way to Meisler's home.
Dambro said she stayed on the phone with Meisler the whole time and could hear the fire department breaking down her front door. "I told her they were going to come in and get her," Dambro told Yahoo. "If you said her name, she responded, because a couple times I was worried she wasn't there. But then you could hear her breathing."
As of late last week, local reports say Meisler's condition has improved. She spent several days in ICU, but doctors found the blood clot in her brain that caused the stroke and Meisler is now regaining some function in her arms and neck.
Although he won't call it fate, the ironic twist in this stroke saga is that years prior, Harkins' own father had a stroke. He credits his family's past experience with stroke as the major reason he was able to recognize what was happening to Meisler more than 100 miles away.
"If Tim hadn’t been talking to her and we hadn’t done what we had done, how long would she have been there and how much more damage ... or would she have died at that point?" Dambro tells Yahoo. "We don't know if he wouldn't have called her and been talking to her, how long it would have been for her."
As it stands now, Harkins doesn't want to be called a hero. He says his timing was just "lucky" and he's thankful he was able to help.
"The way things lined up, this was truly a miracle," Ozzello tells Yahoo. "Had we not all been available and done what we did, we're not certain it would have had a good ending."
Considering May is National Stroke Awareness Month, Harkins' actions should be lauded as heroic and life-saving. Educating others about recognizing the symptoms of stroke and acting FAST to get medical attention is crucial—and we're thankful Harkins and the others came through when they were needed the most.
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