DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — An Ozark, Alabama, woman is being called a hero by her family and friends after her father’s heart stopped on the way to a doctor’s appointment.

John Matthews and his family were getting ready to go to his doctor’s appointment when, suddenly, he stopped talking, and his breaths shortened.

“Had to start CPR on him because he quit breathing and his heart stopped,” John Matthews’ daughter, Laura Smith, told Nexstar’s WDHN.

For more than seven minutes, Smith performed CPR on her father as a family member drove them from Matthews’ home in Ozark to the emergency room at Dale Medical Center.

Laura Smith (Shared with WDHN)

“I mean, it was a difficult thing, but you have to act quickly,” Smith recounted.

When they arrived, hospital staff took over. They were able to stabilize Matthews’ vitals and began looking into what caused the accident.

“It was a blood pressure drop, and also, he is retaining a lot of fluid because of his kidney function,” Smith said.

Matthews has since been transferred to Flowers Hospital, where doctors continue to run tests on him.

“I am not sure of a time when he will be coming home,” Smith said.

Smith has been a respiratory therapist for 26 years, which helped her notice signs of cardiac arrests, such as a change in a person’s breathing.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, other signs a person could be experiencing cardiac arrest include:

  • Collapsing suddenly and losing consciousness
  • Not breathing, breathing ineffectively, or gasping for air
  • Not responding to shouting or shaking
  • Being without a pulse

Smith emphasized the importance of CPR, noting that you never know when it will be needed.

“Even with a child, adult, you know, whatever age, it’s a good thing to know CPR,” Smith said.