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Fla. army medic, Chili’s server saves man with CPR

He immediately began CPR when a man he was serving earlier collapsed outside the restaurant; a registered nurse jumped in to help

By Tom McLaughlin

Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Superman’s cape is an apron, and he isn’t a mild mannered reporter – he’s a server at the Chili’s in Fort Walton Beach.

James Thompson waits tables at Chili’s Grill and Bar when he’s not providing medical care as a treatment NCO at the U.S. Army Ranger Camp.

He dropped what he was doing Wednesday evening to save the life of a man who’d collapsed outside the restaurant.

“It was a pretty wild one, we were getting into our dinner service when our host comes over the radio and said a guy’s collapsed outside,” restaurant manager Matt Svitenko said.

Thompson stepped up and took control.

“He went out there with no hesitation and took charge. He administered CPR to the guy and was able to revive him,” Svitenko said. “When the emergency personnel arrived they told him to keep doing what he was doing. It was pretty impressive.”

Thompson said he’d actually waited on the man and his party that night, and spoke enough with the guests to know the man was having some trouble breathing after the meal.

“The manager came and grabbed me. I guess, he’d been there for a few minutes when I arrived,” Thompson said. “I didn’t feel a pulse.”

Thompson initiated CPR and a registered nurse jumped in to help. The man was breathing by the time an ambulance arrived and took him to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Svitenko said the man was reported to be in serious but stable condition Thursday.

“They said if it hadn’t been for James he wouldn’t have made it,” he said.

Humble, Thompson said he gets a good feeling from helping people.

“I love my job, and I hope one day if I’m ever in that kind of situation somebody will stop and help,” he said.