Band members who were with Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion on the bus in a parking lot in Orlando, Florida, where he died last month tried frantically to get him help when they realized he was not breathing, a 911 tape released Thursday reveals.
“One of our drum majors is on the bus and not breathing,” a male caller tells a female dispatcher for the Orange County Fire Rescue.
“Is he breathing or is he not breathing?” she asks.
“We don’t know if he’s breathing or not, but we need to get an ambulance ASAP.”
“I have help on the way already,” she says. She asks, “Is he awake?”
“He’s not even responding. He’s responding a little. He wasn’t responding. We thought he was breathing. He was making noises, but I don’t even know if he’s breathing now.”
“Is he awake?”
“His eyes are open; he’s not responding.”
“But is he breathing?”
“I have no idea. I cannot tell you. He just threw up.”
“He just threw up?”
The dispatcher then asks whether Champion was shaking prior to stopping breathing.
“No, he wasn’t. He wasn’t shaking. I don’t even know how he was. He was just sitting there. We were just talking and the next thing you know, he was shaking and not doing anything.”
Asked again whether Champion was shaking, the caller — who says he has left the bus in order to hear the dispatcher — tells her, “No, no, he wasn’t shaking. He wasn’t moving. I don’t know what’s going on.”
The dispatcher then calmly asks him to get back on the bus. “I want you to see if he’s breathing, because that’s very important,” she says.
After a silence, the voice of another man tells the dispatcher, “Ma’am, we have a band member right here,” he says. “He’s on the bus and he’s not breathing.”
He says, “I tried to give him CPR and he started to vomit.”
“OK, and you’re right by him now?” she asks.
“He’s in my hands, ma’am. He’s cold. He’s in my hands.”
Asked to lay Champion flat on his back on the floor of the bus, the man says, “OK, I’m going to try. He’s heavy.”
“I understand,” the dispatcher says. “Just try to do your best, OK?”
After more silence, the conversation resumes. “All right, cool. He’s flat. He’s flat on this back.”
“OK, then I want you to kneel next to him and I want you to look in his mouth for food or vomit.”
“Yes, there’s vomit.”
“There is vomit in his mouth?”
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