EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Former Governor John Kitzhaber wants his old job back, but he returned to his days as an emergency room doctor during his debate with Bill Bradbury in Eugene.

The Register-Guard newspaper reports that Wednesday night's forum was suspended for about 20 minutes after an audience member suffered an apparent seizure.

Raw video:Kitzhaber first aid

When someone asked if there was a doctor in the house, Kitzhaber rushed up the aisle to provide first aid.

He checked the man's vital signs and ensured he had an open airway until paramedics arrived.

I heard someone say is there a doctor in the house, Kitzhaber said. I thought they were kidding and then I looked up and there was someone obviously in distress. And so the old ER reflex kicked in.

Some things you don't forget, he said.

Kitzhaber said it appeared the older man in the audience was having a seizure. So he pulled him to the ground, checked his vital signs and made sure he had an open airway. Kitzhaber kept an eye on him until paramedics arrived.

I can still tell you today, when you hear someone fall across the room, there's just this reflex from spending 18 years in an emergency room, Kitzhaber said. He obviously needed some help.

20 minutes later, the man was on his way to the hospital and the debate resumed.

The incident led to a friendly moment between the candidates when the debate resumed. Bradbury, however, also chided his opponent as someone who would be limited to diagnosing the state's ills when Oregon needs someone to take action.

I went back up on stage and we finished the debate, Kitzhaber said. Absolutely.

The two Democrats meet in the May 18 primary election.

Read or Share this story: