Off Duty Firefighter Saves Life at Cherry Capital Airport

A Traverse City man is alive thanks to the quick action of a bystander.

Doctor David Steffey was catching a flight to Chicago when he collapsed at the Cherry Capital airport.

It’s never a good time to go into cardiac arrest, but Dr. Steffey was at the right place at the right time when he did.

Mark Holston saves lives for a living. But he was off the clock the Sunday morning he met Dr. Steffey. He was walking into the airport in Traverse City when he noticed a crowd gathered around a man on the floor.

“It was pretty obvious from the get-go that he needed some help,” said Holston. “I walked up, rolled him on his side, checked for a pulse and it was very weak at first, then dissipated to nothing. That’s when we started CPR.”

Holston did CPR while TSA agents ran to find an AED machine. Holston did what he can until the medics arrived. Dr. Steffey went to Munson hospital where he made his recovery.

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death nationwide and can kill if not treated within minutes. Cardiac arrest is essentially an electrical malfunction that makes the heart stop beating and sending blood to the brain and lungs. For most patients, it’s deadly.

Dr. Steffey knew he was lucky.

“My sister actually passed away during this whole ordeal that I had, the same week I was in the hospital, she had a heart attack and wasn’t able to be revived,” said Steffey.

Thankfully, Holston was there to get Dr. Steffey the care he needed immediately. The Northwest Regional Airport Committee honored Holston with the Life Saving award on Tuesday.

“I cant thank firefighter Holston enough for stepping up that day,” said Traverse City fire chief Jim Tuller. “It would be an easy thing to go in a different door and make his [flight] connection, but he happened upon [Dr. Steffey.]”

Dr. Steffey and Holston reunited for the first time since the ordeal last month.

“It was just wonderful to meet Mark and shake his hand and say thank you,” said Dr. Steffey.

Holston said their paths crossed because of divine intervention.

“I’ve done CPR countless times, this is one of the best case scenarios,” said Holston. “I am truly thankful to God, and certainly believe in divine intervention and God came into play that Sunday.”