A Balcony View: Life-saving lessons

July 20, 2010|By Gary Huerta

"Stay with me, Corky," I screamed. "You hang on! Look at me! Stay here!"

Moments earlier, I had been having a conversation with Corky about my love of motorcycles. He had just finished telling me about his dislike of them.

I was just about to change the subject when Corky coughed twice and stiffened up in the seat next to me. As Corky began struggling for air, I reached for his hand. I tried to remain as calm as I could to reassure him that whatever was happening, he was going to be OK.


In the front seat my two co-workers were assuming different roles. Matt, the driver of the van, was pulling off the freeway as quickly as possible while Lisa was in the process of calling 911 and searching for someplace suitable to find assistance.

Whether by dumb luck or divine intervention, we happened upon an upscale restaurant close to the freeway off-ramp. We quickly pulled up to the valet and threw all the doors open.

"Please help us. Our friend is having a heart attack."

From out of nowhere, a doctor and anesthesiologist came to our aid. We pulled Corky out of the car and laid him down at the entrance of the restaurant. I continued to cradle his head in my hand, not wanting Corky to feel any more pain from the sidewalk than he was already feeling.

I could hear the faint sound of sirens approaching as the both doctors worked in unison to save this stranger's life. One of the doctors began chest compressions as the other shoved his fingers in Corky's mouth, doing everything he could to keep the airway open.

"Is there a defibrillator?" one of the doctors asked.

But the restaurant did not have one. Another woman, a nurse, checked Corky's wrist. He had a faint pulse.

Moments later the paramedics arrived, and suddenly there was a more prepared team working in unison to save Corky. For several minutes more I kept my hand under his head until one of the paramedics got a towel.

I stepped out of the way and watched as the paramedics stabilized Corky so he could be transported to a nearby hospital.

As we were driving to the hospital, I began to wonder whether there were any laws that require restaurants to own a defibrillator. I figured if I was in Corky's spot, I would want a law like that in place.

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