Street Smarts

Pastor Rob Taylor, center, poses with Mark Schoenfield, chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of English, right, and his son, Michael. The Schoenfields performed CPR on Taylor after he collapsed near his home. (Credit: Steve Green)

Mark Schoenfield, chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of English, and his family were a little behind schedule several weeks ago as they prepared to drive from their home near Vanderbilt to the airport. The slight delay may have saved a life.

Schoenfield backed the car out of his driveway and began to pull forward when his wife, Sarah, and son, Josh, glanced out the rear window and spotted a man lying in the street.

Schoenfield slammed on the brakes. He and Sarah ran to check on the man, who was wearing running attire and had no identification on him. His breathing was shallow and then stopped altogether. Schoenfield started CPR while Josh called 911. Meanwhile, his other son, Michael, who is a Vanderbilt undergraduate student, and a friend rushed out of the house and took turns doing compressions.

Fortunately, Schoenfield had recently completed a CPR course at Vanderbilt, and Michael had completed one while in high school. They kept up the compressions until an ambulance arrived.

The patient, 47-year-old pastor Rob Taylor, was transported to Vanderbilt, where he was admitted to the cardiovascular intensive care unit and diagnosed with sudden cardiac death. An avid runner and otherwise perfectly healthy, Taylor’s heart had suddenly and unexplainably stopped working as he finished a seven-mile run.

Interestingly, Mark Schoenfield suffered a cardiac event 18 months earlier on that same street while walking to wrestling practice, falling to the ground about 30 feet from where he found Taylor.

Taylor, the pastor at Calvary Chapel Brentwood, was discharged June 28 with an internal defibrillator. It turns out that he lives six doors down from Schoenfield.

“Anyone in that situation would do anything they could,” says Schoenfield. “But if you happen to be there, it would be awful not to be CPR-trained. To have a Vanderbilt father–son team perform it together was kind of cool.”

Vanderbilt Heart offers free educational classes on the topic “New CPR: Chest Compressions Only.”