Alabaster native helps during medical emergency at Arkansas airport

Published 9:26 am Friday, May 12, 2023

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Special to the Reporter

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Alabaster native and Auburn University student Noah Tanner had just stepped off a plane at Northwest Arkansas National Airport’s Regional Jet Center on Tuesday, May 9 when he and a colleague realized another person at the airport was experiencing a medical emergency and needed help.

As a student athletic trainer for Auburn’s softball team, Tanner allowed his instincts to take over as he and Lora Fuhrmann, a certified athletic trainer at Auburn, rushed to render aid to the individual in distress.

“We had just landed, and we were unloading,” said Tanner, who traveled with the team to Arkansas for the SEC Softball Tournament this week. “It was just business as usual, and then it wasn’t.”

Tanner said he and Fuhrmann did multiple rounds of chest compressions and rescue breathing until EMS personnel arrived at the scene.

For the rescue breathing, Tanner used a CPR mask he had put in his backpack only hours before the incident, having no idea he would need it that day.

“Hats off to everyone that was there, for the Auburn staff recognizing and doing what we needed to do to help me and Lora have a successful rescue attempt,” Tanner said. “On the field, we know where all the emergency equipment is in that situation. When you’re just deplaning, you really don’t think about that stuff.”

Although specific information regarding the individual’s condition was not released for privacy reasons, Tanner’s and Fuhrmann’s actions were described as potentially life-saving, according to a statement released from the airport.

For Tanner, this was not his first time to respond to a medical emergency.

His first experience came when he was a teenager working as a lifeguard through the Birmingham YMCA.

“I think with that incident I took it personally and made sure that if I was ever faced with it again, I would be ready to do what I needed to do to leave no doubt that there wasn’t any more that I could do,” Tanner said. “I think every first responder goes through that on their first one, of what more could I have done. I think that event prepped me for this one; I just didn’t know at that time.”

Tanner said he hopes the story from the airport will inspire more people to become CPR certified to increase the chances of their ability to help someone experiencing a medical emergency in a public place.

Tanner credits the training he has received at Auburn with equipping him to help during such emergencies, both on and off the field.

“It just shows the kind of athletic trainers we have here at Auburn and the way that they help train us to be ready for that unpredictability,” he said. “The most impactful moments of college athletics happen off the field. I think that’s a true testament.”

Tanner is a junior studying exercise science and fitness activity and health at Auburn. He plans to graduate next year and then pursue a master’s degree in athletic training to become a certified athletic trainer.

Prior to working as a student athletic trainer with Auburn’s softball team, Tanner worked with the football team for three years.

Considering what happened at the airport, he believes the change placed him where he needed to be at the right time.

“Any chance that we get to broaden our horizons and sharpen our skills is always a good chance,” Tanner said. “Working softball was different for me, but sure enough, I was here for a reason.”