Credit: nwi.com – “It was almost like a Bayer commercial,” Paula Liles said of the incident.
For Fred Maxey, it was a too real life-or-death drama.
Maxey, 53, of Valparaiso, was umpiring the bases Aug. 2 at the ASA/USA 14-and-under Softball Nationals held in Normal, Ill., before fate introduced him to Liles, an ICU medical surgical nurse from Bremen, Ga.
“My daughter’s team had just lost,” Liles said of Gabby, who plays for the Georgia Force, “but we were sticking around to watch a friend of Gabby’s who plays on another team (the East Cobb, Ga. Bullets).”
Maxey was working the game involving the Bullets when he started experiencing shortness of breath. Soon, Maxey was down on his knees.
“I first saw him waving his arms, and I could see he was having some heart problems,” said Liles, who quickly took charge of the situation.
Maxey has had a history of coronary problems, and twice survived heart attacks. He has a pacemaker and a defibrillator installed in his chest. During the game, his defibrillator was going off.
“The people at the park were quick to act, and God bless them,” Liles said, “but they were bringing out a (external) defibrillator, and with someone with one already in his chest, that’s not going to do any good, and may even mess things up worse.”
Maxey was having a hard time communicating, but was able to convey to Liles that his defibrillator was going off.
“That’s when I asked if anyone had any aspirin,” Liles said of a remedy for a situation she often encounters. “I had him chew on the aspirin.
“We were later told that the aspirin likely saved his life,” Liles said — aspirin dissolves clots in blood vessels that occur when an internal defibrillator malfunctions. “So whoever handed me the aspirin is the real hero.”
For Maxey, the real hero was Liles.
“She was an angel sent by God … I’m not kidding,” said Maxey, who was treated and released later that weekend. “She was not even supposed to be at that game. You could say it was luck that her daughter’s friend was playing, but it’s more than just luck.
“I would have died right there if they would have tried to use that defibrillator on me without her intervening.”
Before emergency medical technicians arrived, Liles wrote down the medications Maxey was taking as well as hisæ medical history.
“She didn’t have a pad of paper to write on, so she wrote all this on her arm,” Maxey said. “She took complete control of the situation and saved my life.”
Liles is a managing nurse at the Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica, Ga. She also is an advanced cardiac life support instructor. Liles got into the health profession in part because of her family’s long history with cancer.
“You can say it’s a calling from God,” she said. “We’re always on duty, even outside the hospital.”
Like Maxey, who the week before turned down a request from The Times to do a feature on him working his seventh ASA national … “Focus should be on the kids, not on me,” he said … Liles is modest about doing something that comes natural for her.
“My hometown newspaper (Times-Georgian) got a hold of me, and I’ve been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from my friends,” said Liles, who was particularly touched when Maxey called to thank her.
“You have to be a very good umpire to work an ASA national,” said Liles, who played on two Alabama state championship teams, and a Top 10 national team in her youth.
“Softball has always been in my blood,” she said. “I played until I was pregnant with my first child.”
Though she has since retired from playing, Liles proved she can still come through in the clutch.”