The group saved David Pascolla after he experienced cardiac arrest on the court

ATASCADERO — Eight heroes were given a commendation by Chief Casey Bryson and Atascadero Fire at the City Council meeting that took place on Tuesday, March 28, for helping save one of their fellow pickleball players’ lives back in September.

Atascadero High School’s (AHS) photography teacher, David Pascolla, suffered a cardiac arrest on the morning of Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, after a game of pickleball on the indoor court at Colony Park. While there are four courts outside, the group was playing inside due to rain.

“David had played one game, and nothing was unusual. He went over to sit down on the bleachers,” said the Atascadero Pickleball Club’s President Bob Brown. “If you’ve ever been inside the Colony Park Gym, it looks like a basketball court, and there’s these little pull-out bleachers. I think they’re three sets high. 


“So anyway, David went to sit up against the highest bleacher, which wasn’t very high; it’s only the third one up. And he was resting against the wall, and then all of a sudden, Gail Davidson (one of the members of this group) noticed that he had slumped over, and she initially thought, ‘oh my goodness, David is playing a trick on us, pretending to go to sleep.’ But then, as she walked over and she was going to say something to him, she noticed that his eyes were just glassy and wide open.” 

Davidson, Frank Clyburn, and Dave Mulvey rushed to aid Pascolla. Clyburn had prior CPR training, and once they realized Pascolla was unresponsive, he started CPR immediately. Meanwhile, as soon as Debbie Rothman noticed something was wrong, she got the automated external defibrillator (AED) that was kept right outside the gym in the lobby. And while all that was happening, Donna Martin and Janice Graham dialed 911 simultaneously. 

Clyburn continued to give Pascolla CPR, and they were able to trigger the AED in the handful of minutes it took for Atascadero Fire to arrive on the scene. Darla Hunt was the one who went outside and made sure the paramedics knew where to find Pascolla.

Pascolla’s heart was functioning by the time he was loaded into the ambulance before being taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

“Pickleball brings out the best in people. I think that’s what I saw that day. Everybody had been such good friends that there’s no agendas, so if one person is doing one task, everybody just got together, and they made sure that they did everything they could to save David,” added Brown. “The feelings of the paramedics were that if those eight members hadn’t come together and immediately done that, and Frank hadn’t started CPR, the outcome could have been far, far different.”

Today, Pascolla is back to playing pickleball actively and has returned to his healthy self with the addition of an implanted defibrillator and pacemaker combo.

“We were all so moved by this that we created this acronym called D.E.A.R. We nicknamed this group the D.E.A.R. Eight. David’s Emergency Aid Responders,” stated Brown.

The “D.E.A.R.s” (David’s Emergency Aid Responders) are Frank Clyburn, Dave Mulvey, Gail Davidson, Debbie Rothman, Donna Martin, Barbara Clyburn, Darla Hunt, and Janice Graham.

Feature Image: (From left) Darla Hunt, Donna Martin, Barbara Clyburn, Frank Clyburn, Atascadero Fire Chief Casey Bryson, Dave Mulvey, Gail Davidson, Janice Graham, Debbie Rothman, and David Pascolla are shown at City Hall. Contributed Photo