Medical lecturer discusses in-class death

In the Spring of 2013, while giving a presentation on infant CPR, lecturer Pat Malone collapsed and fell to the ground.

Malone was having a heart attack and was pronounced medically dead.

The students in the CPR training session thought it was a test. However, after noticing Malone had no pulse they realized just how real it was.

Malone lived, all thanks to the students who began CPR on him as soon as they recognized the problem. He was rushed in an ambulance with the three students who had checked his pulse.

“The students in the ambulance were students of mine — students I had trained. I went from teacher to patient,” he said.

Nearly three years later, Malone sat in Given Cafe, a common study spot for many medical students.

A group of Malone’s students said hello at a distance with a wave and smile in the cafe. He paused, returned the gesture and resumed the conversation.

“Working with students is the most rewarding part of my job,” he said as the students walked away.

It was, in fact, his current students and former students that saved his life.

One of these former students was, Ryan Wiklund, was one of the EMTs on the scene the day of Malone’s cardiac arrest.

“You can be the most confident and skilled provider, but when you know the patient on a personal level, it affects you,” he said.

He was shocked when he saw the patient was his former professor, he said.

Another one of Malone’s former students, Dr. Steve Leffler ‘90, was working in the emergency department the day of Malone’s heart attack. He deemed Malone’s chances of survival at about 5%.

“We were hopeful that he would survive but were all very concerned,” he said. “That exact training Malone taught his students is what saved his life.”

These former students that helped save his life were a few of the many students Malone trained in his 32 years of lecturing at UVM, Malone said.

 Malone is currently an emergency medical services senior lecturer in the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences.  

Had someone told him as a teenager he would be teaching emergency and wilderness medicine today, he would not have believed them, he said.

“I did earn the first-aid merit badge in Boy Scouts as a kid, so maybe that was some foreshadowing,” Malone said.

When he started out in EMS, Malone enjoyed the training aspect of the work, which eventually evolved into a love for the educational focus of EMS, he said.

And now, with nearly two decades at UVM, Malone is proud to say that his passion is his profession, he said.

“I love the position I’m in, and I love this place,” Malone said.

Previous students of Malone commended him for his teaching and devotion to his students.

“Pat Malone has by far been my greatest mentor here at UVM,” junior John Levkulic said.

Levkulic’s respect for his teacher rests on Malone’s ability to teach real-world skills.

Students under Malone’s instruction go past the textbook. They apply their knowledge to future scenarios that students will encounter, he said.

“Malone is one of few professors who will always give you the utmost respect and appreciation the very first day he meets you,” Levkulic said.  “He will treat you as an adult.”