Quick action saves former paramedic’s life

By NATHAN HOWELL / Special to the Reporter 

ALABASTER – Greg Barnes, a retired paramedic, was lucky on the morning of May 1 when his friend and fellow paramedic, Jerry Pate, recognized he was displaying the signs of a stroke.

Since the men retired from working in the EMS field, they worked for several companies performing health and wellness screenings for employees of larger companies. The men were setting up to perform one of these screenings when Pate noticed something was off.

“I wasn’t sure what was going on at first, but I knew something was off,” Pate said. “I didn’t know if he was having a stroke or a diabetic episode, but he was displaying the symptoms of both such as balance problems, arm strength issues, confusion and speech problems.”

“I don’t remember too much about that morning,” according to Barnes. “It was just like any other routine setup. I recall coming in, and opening the boxes and setting everything up. Then it ends there. I am told that I started packing up my boxes, taping them and putting the labels on them.”

Luckily the men were conducting a screening in Alabaster near the Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, which has a stroke center.

“Because we got there so quickly he was able to have the right doctors give him the right medicine at the right time,” according to Pate.

According to Pate, one important thing to take away from this story is that anyone can recognize the signs of a stroke with a simple acronym, BE FAST.

“That stands for balance, eyes, face, arms, strength, and telephone, meaning to get help,” he explained.