By Rebecca Croomes
An Athens man is recovering at Huntsville Hospital after suffering a heart attack at the close of the Hospice Chili Challenge Saturday.
Mac Rainey remained in the Coronary Care Unit of Huntsville Hospital Tuesday and was awaiting surgery to install a defibrillator, said Suzanne Rainey, his former wife.
“I think a lot of people are praying,” she said.
Rainey was on his way back to his booth when he collapsed on the pavement outside Athens High School. Strangers immediately began the task of saving his life. Firefighters from Oak Grove-Thach Volunteer Fire Department ran from their booth and started performing CPR. Someone then went back inside the school to retrieve the defibrillator, or AED. Another person offered a diaper to place under Rainey’s head where he had hit it against the pavement after falling.
As a small crowd gathered and prayed, sheriff’s deputies radioed for an ambulance. The AED was rushed out and applied just as the ambulance arrived.
Tom Butler, a former state senator and Limestone County native, campaigned to have AEDs placed in every school in the state after he had a heart attack in the 1990s. Butler said he was pleased his initiative was able to help save Rainey, but said the real thanks goes to the Oak Grove crew that knew how to use the AED.
“I commend all of them; they’re true good Samaritans and heroes 24/7 for all of us,” Butler said.