Runner on verge of death reunites with neighbors who helped save him

Local News

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (KXAN) — Giving CPR right away can double or even triple the chances of survival after cardiac arrest.

It’s something the New Braunfels Fire Department says everyone should learn, and it’s what helped save an Army veteran who was in trouble. That’s why firefighters invited all the people who helped save that man’s life to their department Monday: to show that it takes a chain of people using the right skills in a timely manner to save a life. 

Jose Garcia was running through his New Braunfels neighborhood as he always did on the morning of June 27 when he collapsed. 

His neighbor, Will Hardin, ran over to check on him. Hardin couldn’t find a pulse on Garcia so he started CPR and continued until EMS arrived. 

“He’d start breathing for me for a couple seconds then he’d fade back out and I’d start compressions again,” explained Hardin. 

Jennifer Gutierrez, who called for help, said, “I knew I needed to call 911 … I knew I needed to step back and let the people that knew how to take care of him get there.” 

Minutes later, NBFD showed up and were able to restart Garcia’s heart with a defibrillator. Doctors said this quick response helped to get Garcia straight into surgery when he arrived at the hospital. 

The New Braunfels Fire Department said this is a perfect example of what the American Heart Association calls the chain of survival. AHA has published findings showing that chances of survival from cardiac arrest can be improved when there is early recognition of the event, early CPR administered, early defibrillation and early advanced care by EMS. In particular, AHA says chances of survival are best when CPR and defibrillation are given within the first four minutes of the cardiac arrest.

Jawed Sayeed, the cardiologist who worked with Garcia, said, “My role in this wasn’t very important. What was important was what these guys did, because we can save a patient at different types of cardiac arrest, but we cannot save the brain.” 

Dr. Sayeed says the neighbors’ quick actions may have saved this man from death or serious brain damage. 

“I’m thankful to these guys,” Garcia said, pointing to the New Braunfels fire team, “And thankful to Jennifer and Wil. That’s not something I can ever pay back.”  

For information on an American Heart Association CPR class, visit its website here.

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