About an hour before game time, Ryan Walker, 23, arrived at Kauffman Stadium with 15 others for a friend’s bachelor party. They planned to tailgate, watch the game and spend a night on the town.
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Thomas Hinds also was outside the stadium that night. He was in town from Virginia Beach, Va., for his grandson’s graduation from Park Hill South High School and was eager to attend a major-league game. But as he headed toward the ballpark, something wasn’t right.
“We started walking,” Hinds said, “got about halfway there, and then I knew I wasn’t going to make it — that I was going to pass out.”
Fortunately, Walker was nearby with his group when he noticed Hinds had collapsed.
“Immediately I started walking toward him,” Walker said, “and when I was about 20 or 30 feet away I started jogging and just thought, ‘Uh-oh.’ ”
At that point, Walker, a recent nursing graduate from Concorde College, let his instincts and training go to work.
While Royals security rushed to grab an automated external defibrillator, Walker gave Hinds mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. Using the defibrillator, Walker shocked Hinds in an effort to start his heart. Walker continued CPR until paramedics arrived, and by that time Hinds had regained a pulse.
“He started to come to, opened his eyes a bit,” Walker said. “He knew his name, but they asked him his age and he said he was 35, so he was still pretty out of it.”
Hinds was taken to Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, where Walker happens to work. As Hinds recovered, he learned that the man who had saved him worked just two floors above his hospital bed.
“He must have listened very well in those nursing classes,” Hinds said, “because he knew exactly what to do.”
The two met the next day.
“He came sauntering in like John Wayne,” Hinds said with a laugh. “I immediately knew who he was. …
“I said, ‘You’re the man who saved my life,’ and he didn’t say yes to that, he simply looked at me and said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m trained to do.’ ”
While Hinds got to thank the man who had revived him, Walker met the man whose life he had saved — the first life he’s saved in his short career.
“It was great. He was a super nice guy — real down to earth and has a great sense of humor,” Walker said. “He kept saying ‘thank you’ and was constantly boasting to the nurses that, ‘Oh, this is Ryan Walker. He saved my life.’ ”
For Walker, the experience reassured him that the medical field is the right fit for him.
“It helps build confidence,” he said. “Being less than a year out of nursing school, being in that situation, it feels good.”
The night of the incident, after Hinds’ wife and grandson thanked Walker, the team gave him a reward as well.
“We got our seats upgraded (by stadium staff) to the second row, and the Royals won,” Walker said. “It ended up being a pretty darn good bachelor party.”