Pastor is Revived With Church’s Defibrillator After Heart Stops During Sermon

Fairview Baptist Church pastor Mike Rice testifies Sunday, Aug. 12, from behind the pulpit where he collapsed after his heart stopped beating two months ago.
Photo by Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

Two years ago pastor Mike Rice was approached by two women members of the church he leads about placing a defibrillator in the building.

“We had a senior deacon who had some episodes,” Rice said. “But I sure never knew I’d be the first one to need it.”

Two months after his heart stopped while he was behind the pulpit, the 66-year-old pastor was preaching again on Sunday morning, Aug. 12.

He said if it wasn’t for the defibrillator, some medical personnel in the congregation and the volunteer fire department’s quick action, his last sermon would have been June 10.

That’s the evening that Rice collapsed while ending his sermon. Although he had bypass surgery in 2003 and has been diagnosed with heart disease, Rice didn’t have a heart attack. His heart just stopped beating and so did his breathing.

In a matter of seconds, several rushed to the stage at Fairview Baptist Church in Westwood, Ky., including physician Ish Stevens who was at the pastor’s side with the machine, or AED, that was purchased two years ago.

“Ish said I was finishing up [the sermon],” Rice said. “I don’t remember. All I know is what I was told.”

Stevens, who first thought the diabetic Rice had blacked out because of low sugar, administered the machine to the pastor. Jo Cathey, a nurse in the hospital cardiology department in nearby Ashland, also was quickly on the scene.

“When she saw me, she said, ‘He’s gone. I’ve seen this before,'” Rice said.

Stevens shocked Rice’s heart — “I slapped it on him and gave him a jolt. He flopped like a fish” — and the volunteer fire department, which was across the street and doing some training, rushed over and used an apparatus that assisted in getting him breathing again. But he had gone nearly eight minutes without oxygen.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press; Kentucky Today, Mark Maynard

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