Perhaps there is nothing more rewarding than playing a role in saving a human life. To be personally acknowledged by the person saved makes the opportunity even more fulfilling.
VAN member Tom Wang (VU ’01) was recognized recently in an area newspaper feature for his part in saving the life a 50-year-old man, who suffered a massive heart attack while playing golf. As a firefighter/paramedic for the Mount Prospect Fire Department, Tom was in charge when the unforgettable emergency call came in. Fortunately, a group of other golfers had performed CPR on the heart attack victim when they found him lying face down near the ninth hole, not breathing and without a pulse.
“We had to shock him twice, once on the golf course and once in the ambulance,” says Wang. “There’s no way he would have been in a shockable rhythm if they hadn’t done CPR. The percentage of people who come back from something like this is so low. It hardly ever happens.”
But come back he did, and the grateful victim and his family appeared at the fire station several weeks later, bearing pizzas, brats and dessert for the department. For the VU public relations major alumnus, whose college highlights included traveling to St. Louis to cheer on the mighty Crusaders at the Sweet 16, it was the culmination of a sweet moment, indeed.
Of course, many more life and death situations will require Tom’s attention in the future. Trained to also be a member of the department’s Technical Rescue Team, he can respond to both local and statewide emergencies. These might include structural collapses and trench, confined space and high angle rope rescues.
Not only is Wang a certified paramedic on state and national levels, he also holds a United States Soccer Federation D License, which allows him to perform as the assistant coach for Harper College Men’s Soccer team.
“When I looked back at the various jobs I held while at Valpo—retail clerk, intramural referee, tour leader for the Office of Admissions, orientation assistant,” says the dedicated helper. “I realized that they all revolved around helping people and days that held lots of variety. That desire to help people led me to some 14 months of schooling to become a paramedic and firefighter. As an orientation assistant, I learned the value of a good work ethic and how to be a good role model for the incoming freshman. Those lessons remain with me to this day.”