- Associated Press - Sunday, March 1, 2020

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Donning a Carolina blue shirt with the recognizable UNC logo, Dave Corless was all smiles on Feb. 25.

He knows he’s one of the lucky ones.

After participating in a water aerobics class last month at the Summerville YMCA, the former North Charleston High School basketball star suffered a heart attack in the locker room. He also suffered a head wound from falling to the ground.

Corless stopped breathing and did not have a pulse for at least 10 minutes while three men, all former law enforcement officers, conducted CPR and used AED equipment to shock his heart.

They never revived him, but kept the treatment going long enough for first responders to arrive and continue resuscitation efforts. After a few more minutes, they succeeded. Clinging to life, the 75-year-old was transported to Trident Medical Center.



“We lost him,” said Kendall Ware, one of the three men on the scene that day. “He wasn’t responding to the CPR. So it’s just incredible to see him here today, alive and well.”

The other two men who helped Corless in the locker room are Dwayne Stephens and Herb Franklin. On the morning of Feb. 25, Corless was greeted by applause from the three men and about 70 others as his wife Kathy walked with him into the hospital cafeteria at Trident.

The group was there to honor the men and the first responders from Summerville Police, Summerville Fire and Rescue and Dorchester County EMS who all played a role in saving Corless’s life.

Only 10 percent of victims who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital live to tell about it.

“We know that Dave is a miracle,” his wife said. “We believe in the power of prayer and we have so many people praying for him. The right people were in the right place at the right time and we know God uses certain people to do His work.”

Corless fought back tears as the Trident staff presented him with a basketball with signatures of the three heroes and the first responders.

“I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “I’m just so honored.”

Prior to his days of water aerobics, Corless enjoyed an active life that centered around basketball. For starters, he won back-to-back state championships at North Charleston High School in 1961 and ’62.

From there, Corless played four years at LaGrange College in Georgia. In 1966 he went to the University of North Carolina and became a graduate assistant under Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

His basketball career included coaching gigs at Georgia Southern and with the Australian National Basketball team. Locally, Corless has coached at Stratford High School, Berkeley High School and Drayton Hall Middle School.

After his coaching days, Corless became an adjunct professor at Charleston Southern.

For his daughter, Kristy Blanco, the incident shined a whole new light on her job at Trident.

As an X-ray technologist at the hospital, she’s conducted countless chest X-rays over the years. But last month hit close to home when she watched her father being treated by co-workers.

“It’s not something you go through every day,” she said. “It was nerve-racking. But seeing my family here come together for him. … I see it all the time. But you have a different kind of love and appreciation for them when it’s your family member lying there. So I just can’t say enough about our hospital family.”

Todd Gallati, president and CEO of Trident, echoed those sentiments. Simply put, he said the celebration on Feb. 25 would not be possible if not for the first responders and medical personnel at the hospital.

“This is a team sport and it takes everybody coming together to make these extraordinary acts happen,” he said. “Our first responders are very important to our hospital and we have someone in this room who is very, very lucky that they did what they did.”

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