'Incredible Hulk' actor helps Comic Con fan having seizure
Lou Ferrigno, who volunteers as a sheriff's deputy, said he immediately began thinking of what could be going on when the fan collapsed
By Rachel Ohm
Knoxville News Sentinel
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A father and son at the Fanboy Expo Comic Con got some unexpected help from a live action hero Friday.
Frank McAlister, in a Facebook post, said he and his 36-year-old son, Ted, were at the comic convention in Knoxville for the first time to meet the people behind the animated characters his son grew up watching.
"He's a big G.I. Joe Fan, and he's a big Lou Ferrigno fan too," McAlister, of Philadelphia, Tenn., said in an interview Monday. "He has all the Incredible Hulk DVD's, and he was having a great day, meeting everybody he wanted to meet."
Ted had his picture taken with Ferrigno, best known for portraying the Incredible Hulk, and the two stopped to talk with the actor and bodybuilder.
That's when he noticed Ted, who is epileptic and has a long history of seizures, was shaking and having difficulty getting his words out, Ferrigno told the USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee in a Sunday interview.
Ferrigno leaned over to Frank and told him Ted was trying to say something he couldn't understand, according to the post.
"I turned and knew immediately that Ted was having a seizure," McAlister wrote in the Facebook post.
Ferrigno said he ran to grab hold of Ted before he collapsed and then cleared the booth where they were standing. McAlister helped Ted sit on the floor. Ferrigno called for paramedics.
"(They) responded immediately but the whole time the Incredible Hulk made sure I had everything I needed," McAlister wrote.
Strong emotions of fear or excitement can trigger a seizure, McAlister said, and most of the time if Ted is in public when it happens people tend to shy away or panic because they don't know what to do.
"I did not expect him to jump right in and be willing to help," McAlister said. "It was a breath of fresh air. There were people gasping and all and backing away. Mr. Ferrigno was just, 'What can I do to help?' and I did not expect that, which was the reason I had to post on Facebook."
Ferrigno, who volunteers as a sheriff's deputy when he's not playing the role of the Incredible Hulk, said when Ted started to collapse and fall backwards, he immediately began running through a list in his head of what could be going on - whether it was a stroke, a diabetic attack, a heart attack or something else.
"I ran to grab him and make sure he wouldn't injure himself and his father immediately said it was a seizure," Ferrigno said. "I'm glad he sat down and we got a support on his head and got the paramedics in right away and kept him calm. I told him, 'Come on back later and take another picture.' Thank God he was okay."
After a visit with an EMT, Ted recovered and was able to go back for the picture, although the one his father ended up posting on Facebook was actually taken before. After a seizure it can take some time for a person to get back to normal and the photo taken afterwards didn't come out as good, he said.
"Talk about a real life Action Hero!" McAlister wrote. "This man is the real deal. It was an absolute honor to shake his hand and a greater honor to say Thank You to a gentle Giant."
Ferrigno, however, said he wasn't doing anything that he wouldn't normally do in his work as a sheriff's deputy.
He currently volunteers about 20 to 30 hours per month as a reserve deputy for both the Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo county sheriff's departments. He's also deputized in eight other states and on Sunday was wearing a pin of a pink sheriff's star from Webb County, Texas.
"It's funny it happened at my table and it's like ... I'm glad it happened here because he was at the right place," Ferrigno said. "If it was a strange environment, like the street, he could have died."
McAlister, meanwhile, said Ted is doing well and although he was a little tired after the seizure, they were able to enjoy the rest of their time at Comic Con, thanks in part to Ferrigno.
"He became a real, live action hero," McAlister said. "Most of the time I see out in public, 'It's all about me.' It's not about somebody else. He wasn't like that."
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