Cintas Kicks Off Heart Health Month With TJ McMahon’s Life-Saving Story
Sudden cardiac arrest presents a serious and escalating health challenge. More than 350,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac events each year . McMahon’s training enabled him to be ready™ for the unexpected and reinforced CPR and AEDs’ critical function in saving lives.
“What we do matters,” McMahon said. “To be involved directly, to see the outcome – and then what comes from the outcome – 100% solidifies what I do for a living.”
As McMahon watched his son’s summer baseball practice unfold on Aug. 27, 2022, in Fort Mill, S.C., angling his chair along the shaded third-base line for relief from the heat, he had no idea he was about to save a man’s life.
Batting practice had just begun when McMahon noticed his son’s coach, Rem Crawford, face-down on the ground.
McMahon raced to Crawford’s side. He was not breathing. He had no pulse.
“I immediately knew I had some form of relief inside of my truck,” McMahon said.
Because of his sales role in Cintas’ First Aid & Safety division, McMahon travels everywhere with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The device analyzes a person’s heartbeat and issues an electrical shock when detecting an uncoordinated rhythm, and Cintas has helped save more than 600 lives with AEDs provided across the country.
The next few minutes were an adrenaline-charged blur. McMahon asked someone to call 911, sent the players into a nearby parking lot away from the scene, bit open the AED pads with his teeth and tore off the cellophane in a frenzy.
McMahon’s training was a crucial part of the life-saving measures, as he knew how to perform compressions, study real-time feedback from the AED and deliver shocks. Emergency Medical Technicians reinforced the process by phone as they sped toward the diamond.
And then, success.
“About 30 to 45 seconds into that second set, Rem comes back to life,” McMahon said.
The incident happened so quickly that Crawford’s wife of 19 years, Ember, had yet to arrive. All three Crawford children had gone with Rem to practice while Ember, in a rare instance, had stayed home. She jumped into action when her 13-year-old daughter called in tears.
“She said, ‘Dad’s on the ground and I don’t know what’s wrong. They said he’s not breathing,’” Ember said. “Please come!”
Ember rushed out of the house without closing the front door. She spoke briefly by phone with Emergency Medical Services before her daughter called again, this time with good news: Rem was awake and traveling to the hospital via ambulance.
Thank you, God, she remembered thinking, that I didn’t have to raise my children alone. That they don’t have to be without a dad. And that I don’t have to do life alone.
Ember seized the opportunity to thank the man who’d saved her husband’s life when she arrived at the field. Another coach pointed out McMahon, who was pacing.
“I’d been OK until then. I was able to pull myself together. And then I walked up and just hugged him and said thank you,” Ember recounted tearfully.
“I was like, ‘No, no, don’t thank me. We were at the right place at the right time with the right stuff,” McMahon said.
Ember was convinced her husband would not have survived without McMahon’s quick action and accessibility to the AED. Rem spent the next week recovering at the hospital after doctors inserted an internal defibrillator to maintain the rhythm of his heartbeat.
In time, Rem was able to recount the circumstances leading to his collapse. He’d been nervous about leading the baseball team – his first head coaching role after years as an assistant coach – and worried about making mistakes.
Rem remembered feeling off as batting practice began but couldn’t say why. The heat, probably. He became light-headed and began sweating profusely.
“I got some water off the bench, came back and that’s when it happened. Everything went white. Next thing I know, there’s a paramedic above me,” Rem said. “Very, very strange. I thought it was a panic attack or something. Exertion. I wasn’t quite sure.”
He was emotional and grateful after finding out the measures McMahon had taken, and he wanted to meet the man who saved his life. He did a little research from afar, even visiting McMahon’s LinkedIn page to learn more about the person he called his hero.
They finally met in person at the ballpark in September, less than a month after Rem’s heart attack. Ember flagged down McMahon, who approached her car thinking he’d shake her husband’s hand.
Instead, McMahon and Rem hugged for nearly 45 seconds.
“It wasn’t a hand-shaking moment,” McMahon said.
They became fast friends as dusk slipped into darkness. The men shared their perspectives of the incident, spoke at length about the AED’s impact and even made plans for their families to spend time together over the holidays. What started as quick action by McMahon became an unbreakable bond between two families that continues today.
“I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for us, for me, for my family, for my future,” Rem added.
About Cintas Corporation
Cintas Corporation helps more than one million businesses of all types and sizes get Ready™ to open their doors with confidence every day by providing products and services that help keep their customers’ facilities and employees clean, safe, and looking their best. With offerings including uniforms, mats, mops, towels, restroom supplies, workplace water services, first aid and safety products, eye-wash stations, safety training, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and alarm service, Cintas helps customers get Ready for the Workday®. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly held Fortune 500 Company traded over the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CTAS and is a component of both the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Nasdaq-100 index.