Tuesday, March 23 was a pretty routine morning for Judd Smith. As usual, he was the only person in that early at Shankenstein Racing, the automotive shop where he works in Hueytown. No one else would be in for another two hours.
Judd picked up the phone to call the UAB Health Center Hueytown to see about making an appointment. He had a history of seizures, and had been off his medication for several years. It was only a matter of time before the next seizure hit, he thought. Besides, at 41, it was time to have a regular doctor.
|(From left to right) Cheryl Ryland, Amy Taft and Jimmy (Judd) Smith had an eventful day Tuesday, March 23. Smith says the actions of Taft and Ryland that morning saved his life.
Amy Taft was having a normal morning, too. She's a patient scheduler at the Hueytown Health Center and took Judd's call. It was the usual routine new patient call — get some background info, check the scheduling book. But then, suddenly, things changed.
Judd Smith wasn't there anymore.
The line was still open, but Judd wasn't saying anything. No response, no movement. nothing. Amy hadn't heard a commotion, no sound of falling. Maybe, just maybe, she could hear light breathing.
Cheryl Ryland works next to Amy in the clinic. She heard the concern in Amy's voice. "My caller's gone! He won't answer!"
Had he changed his mind? That did happen sometimes. A caller decides maybe they don't need a doctor after all. But the line was still open — something must be wrong. Cheryl called 9-1-1 and they gave the dispatcher the number from where the call originated. Amy stayed on the line hoping Judd Smith was all right.
Judd had had a seizure and collapsed all alone on the cold, hard shop floor. Cheryl told Amy that Hueytown Fire Department EMTs were on the way. Amy heard them force their way into the shop. One picked up the phone and told her they'd found Judd unresponsive on the floor, but they had the situation well in hand. Oh — and thanks for alerting us.
Amy's phone rang again late that afternoon. It was Judd Smith. "One minute I'm on the phone making a doctor appointment and the next I wake up in a hospital," he said. "Not quite what I'd had in mind. I had to call the Hueytown clinic and find out what happened, find out if they'd called 9-1-1 for me."
The story has a happy ending, of course. Judd Smith was treated and released from the hospital, and he got his appointment with a doctor. He's back on the seizure medicine and getting regular care from Jonathon Mize, M.D., at the UAB Health Center Hueytown.
Amy and Cheryl were a little numb after it all happened, but now they have a pretty good story to tell. And they have a new friend in Judd Smith.
"It couldn't have worked out any better for me," said Judd. "I think I'll live forever now that I've got those folks to keep an eye on me."