Man back from dead after procedure saves life - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Man back from dead after procedure saves life

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (NBC) - Florida's West Palm Beach Fire Department is one of a few in South Florida that trains its firefighters to purposely give hypothermia to a patient whose heart has stopped beating.

Their biggest success story happened when Charles Morgan, a smoker for 30 years, stepped outside of Schumacher Volkswagen for an ordinary cigarette break and had a heart attack.

"I fell face first in the grass," Morgan said.

The 52 year-old car salesman, husband and father doesn't remember anything from that day.

"The first thing my wife said to me when I woke up in the hospital was -- and I don't remember this either -- 'Do you know how lucky you are?' said Morgan."My first question was, 'Why?"

Rich Harward, a former Marine and a co-worker of Morgan's, started doing chest compressions.

"He was very constricted in his face. He was gurgling," said Harward. "He just took his last breath. He wasn't breathing anymore."

The 911 call was answered by seven firefighters from West Palm's Station Five, lead by Capt. Danny Collazo.

"The more stressful it is the more calm we are trained to be, so we can think clearly," said Collazo. At the time of our arrival, he must have been without a pulse and not breathing for more than eight to 10 minutes."

Firefighters said Morgan was dead, and probably would have stayed that way without modern technology.

Firefighters used a chest compression machine, which squeezes a person's sides, along with their chest, making it 80 percent more successful at getting a pulse than ordinary chest compressions.

After 10 minutes, Morgan's heart was beating again.

Then they unleashed their secret weapon by injecting salt water, cooled to 32 degrees, into his body with a needle.

"We also placed ice packs in designated areas, underneath the armpits, behind the neck, to put him in a hypothermic state," said Collazo.

The ice in Morgan's veins allowed his brain to slow down and go without oxygen for double the amount of time it would normally take a person to develop brain damage.

Without inducing hypothermia, they say it's possible Morgan would have survived, but had severe brain damage.

He had a stent put in and was back at work in three weeks.

"I haven't smoked a cigarette since Dec. 8 and I exercise three times a week now," said Morgan. "These people saved my life and I got a second chance."

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