OXFORD — Wayne Caldwell paused to choke back tears before talking more about the eight men and women standing behind him in Oxford City Hall on Tuesday evening.
Odds are, he wouldn’t be alive without them.
The Oxford residents, who included three city firefighters, all helped save Caldwell’s life after he went into cardiac arrest on March 22. The group was honored with awards for their help during the regular Oxford City Council meeting on Tuesday.
“I’m glad to be here, literally,” Caldwell said, getting a round of laughs from the more than 30 people in attendance. “To be an Oxford guy is to know you’re with a community that cares about you.”
Stop Heart Attack, a Birmingham-based companies that provides defibrillator equipment to the Oxford Fire Department to treat cardiac arrest victims, and the American Heart Association, had representatives at the meeting who presented awards to the group for helping save Caldwell’s life.
“This is what it takes to help resuscitate a patient,” Brady McLaughlin, CEO of Stop Heart Attack, said of the group. “Because he had high-quality CPR, that helped save his life.”
Caldwell, 51, who is the student services coordinator for the Oxford school system, was watching a high school softball game at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on March 22 when he went into cardiac arrest. Three firefighters in service at the game rushed to Caldwell and started performing CPR. Also, residents who were just in the park but had CPR training also participated in helping resuscitate Caldwell.
“Our guys were there just doing their jobs, but y'all didn’t have to, but you did and we appreciate it,” Fire Chief Gary Sparks said to the helpers at the meeting.
Haley Boyd, athletic trainer at Choccolocco Park, immediately got a defibrillator on site for the firefighters when she heard of the emergency.
“I was also one of the first on the scene and called 911,” Boyd said. “I was just glad everyone was there because I’m usually there by myself.”
An ambulance arrived about 10 minutes after the incident began and Caldwell was sent first to Regional Medical Center, then to UAB Hospital. He received treatment and was released May 17.
“Oxford is a place my family calls home,” Caldwell said. “I love and appreciate all of you.”
Also during the meeting, the council agreed to spend $55,125 for grading and foundation work for the city’s planned East Metro Area Crime Center. A crew could be seen using construction equipment to move dirt for the total $3 million project at its planned location behind City Hall on Tuesday.
Police Chief Bill Partridge said the project was moving along on schedule so far and was set to be finished March 15.
Partridge said the goal of the center is to share information between police departments in Calhoun County to reduce the area’s crime rate.
“It brings all the agencies in the region into one place where they’ll use technology to share information such as criminal records and interdepartmental records,” Partridge said. “It’ll be more of an intelligence-based center.”
During the work session before the meeting, the council heard from organizers of the annual Oxfordfest about changes that would be needed because of ongoing renovations of the historic downtown area.
Teresa Crosson, one of the organizers, said not all of the vendors would be lined up back to back in the middle of Main Street this year because of lack of space. Instead, some vendors booths will be lined up on one side of Main Street.
“We’ll still have the same number of vendors … we’ll have over 300,” Crosson said.
Also, city officials assured Crosson that some tripping hazards in the roads would be fixed before the 31st annual Oxfordfest is held Oct. 6.