Good Samaritans who helped save Mike Garland honored before Spartans game

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:34 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Good Samaritans who helped save the life of former Spartans assistant basketball coach Mike Garland were recognized with a special honor Tuesday.

They started a relay of teamwork and saved a life.

Garland was driving with his wife when his heart stopped. Within seconds, two men passing by stopped to help - before first responders arrived. Doctors said Garland would have died if it weren’t for the two men.

Background: Champions of the Heart - Good Samaritans help save Mike Garland following medical emergency, crash

“Those guys responded and saved his life,” said Tom Izzo. “Legitimate heroes.”

Izzo said he remembers getting the call and rushing from Grand Rapids to get to his old college roommate, who was fighting for his life in a Lansing hospital. Those feelings hit again in January when Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin collapsed during a football game.

“It was so ironic that we saw a football player, nationally publicized, going through a lot of what Mike went through,” Izzo said. “When I first saw that happen, I didn’t realize that he had the same thing happen to him because of the hit.”

Hamlin is recovering thanks to quick action from people who knew CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

“54% of Americans claim they know CPR, but in reality, only 11% of those know how to do it correctly,” Garland said.

That’s why Garland is working to change that. He’s creating a foundation called Champions of the Heart. It aims to get more defibrillators in places like gas stations, schools and grocery stores, and also more people trained in CPR.

“It’s such a simple thing to learn and I think it’s important that we start to really recognize that this is something that just about all Americans should know,” Garland said.

You can watch Ann Emmerich’s full story in the video player above.

The focus Tuesday night was recognizing the team that didn’t give up and gave Garland a second chance at life. Before the Spartans tipped off against Maryland, there was a special ceremony to honor the unsung heroes.

“I don’t think that our society really understands the importance of these people and very rarely, are they recognized for what they do,” Garland said.

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