Off-duty firefighter saves a life

Published 12:06 am Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rod guajardo / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez firefighter David Hugg, right, hugs Orvis Marlow at the fire station Wednesday. Hugg performed CPR on Marlow two weeks ago after Marlow collapsed in the waiting room of a local medical clinic.

NATCHEZ — A Natchez man and the off-duty Natchez firefighter who helped save his life were reunited Wednesday to recount the day both say forever changed their lives.

Natchez Fire Department firefighter David Hugg and Orvis Marlow both went to the After Hours Clinic on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive on Jan. 21 feeling a little under the weather with colds.

Hugg took a seat in the lobby and took out his phone to read from the Bible on an application he had downloaded onto his phone the previous night.

“I was reading Genesis 5:5 that said ‘Adam lived 930 years, and then he died,” Hugg said.

Marlow started snoring while sitting in the chair directly behind Hugg.

ROD GUAJARDO / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Hugg was presented with an award for his courageous act.

“I started giggling because someone was asleep,” Hugg said. “But then his snoring got louder and louder and louder, and a woman beside me sort of gave me this look like ‘Are you going to do something?’”

Hugg said he looked over at Marlow, who had slumped over in his chair, and asked him if he was OK. By that time, Hugg said Deana Mabry, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, and nurse Lacie Merritt had come into the lobby to see what was going on.

“He stiffened up, and that was it,” Hugg said. “Me and one of the nurses grabbed him and put him on the ground, and I felt his pulse, and he had none.”

Marlow had suffered a heart attack, and Hugg said he began doing CPR chest compressions on Marlow, while Mabry went to get an air bag mask to give Marlow oxygen. The two continued giving Marlow CPR for approximately five minutes until paramedics arrived.

By the time Hugg and another clinic patient had helped paramedics load Marlow onto a stretcher, Marlow had started to turn blue, and Hugg said he told paramedics he needed to continue compressions. The paramedics, he said, assured him the situation was under control, and Hugg said he knew Marlow was in good hands.

“I just stood there shaking,” Hugg said. “And everybody in the clinic was upset and crying.”

Hugg said he noticed Marlow’s hat laying on the ground after the ambulance had left.

“I don’t know why, but I just kept staring at his hat and thinking, ‘Well, I hope I can give him his hat back,’ and I finally gave it to one of the nurses to make sure he got it back.”

Marlow sat in the office of the NFD central station Wednesday morning wearing the very same hat he wore the day Hugg saved his life. Marlow listened to Hugg tell the story to two of Marlow’s daughters and Hugg’s fellow firefighters.

“I appreciate you,” Marlow said as he stood to shake Hugg’s hand. “I really appreciate you.”

Marlow said he does not remember very much about the day Hugg helped bring him back to life.

“I’m just glad, really glad, he was there,” he said.

Hugg came close to not being at the clinic when Marlow was there that day. Hugg said was going to go with his wife to the clinic earlier in the day but decided to stay with his children until his wife returned home.

“It was divine intervention,” Marlow’s daughter Cathy said.

Marlow’s daughter Margaret Stutzman said it was truly amazing what Hugg had done to save her father.

“We are just so thankful,” she said.

Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart presented Hugg with a Natchez Fire Chief Award for his heroic act. Hugg said people have been talking about him saving Marlow’s life everywhere he goes.

“I don’t need the fanfare or anything like that,” he said. “I was just an off-duty fireman that happened to be there when it happened.”

Hugg said he has been rereading the verse in Genesis about Adam’s death and said he intends to keep reading the Bible more every day.

“It was like a sign,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing, that’s the only way I know how to describe it.”