By Jamie Leary
DENVER (CBS4) – A South Metro firefighter is back on the job after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest on the job last December.
He hopes sharing his story will bring renewed attention to Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillators (AED).
Todd Hennessey, 47, was on his way back from a cardiac arrest call with three other crew members when, without warning, his world went dark.
“Last thing I remember was looking out the window of the engine,” said Hennessey.
Bryan Vogt was brand new to South Metro Fire.
“This was on my first shift, second day,” Vogt said. “Are these guys playing a trick on me?”
Vogt heard what sounded like snoring and turned around to see Hennessey, who was unresponsive.
“I started feeling for a pulse. He was slumping in his chair, drooling and then he stopped breathing,” said Vogt.
The crew made the decision to pull over. Vogt began CPR while fellow firefighter Eric Kapitan applied an AED.
“After a few minutes of compressions, the AED told us to shock him so we did. We continued compressions a little bit longer, and that’s when Todd started coming back to life which was awesome,” said Kapitan.
“Thank goodness,” Vogt continued. “Thank goodness because I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for everybody involved if he hadn’t come back and how we’re supposed to explain that.”
While CPR skills come with the territory, South Metro says everyone needs to know how to do it.
“I’m glad I was where I was. I’m glad I was with who I was with but it can happen anywhere,” Hennessey said.
“I think anybody who values life in anyway should become CPR qualified,” said Vogt.
“We have a lot of training on it, but it’s not a hard task to learn,” said Kapitan.
Doctors still don’t know what caused the sudden cardiac arrest, but Hennessey monitors every beat with a new pacemaker. He hopes to return to full capacity at work in the near future.
American Red Cross provides AED and CPR training across the state.
While the laws vary from state to state, in Colorado, AEDs are becoming more common, but are only legally required in public schools and dental offices. The American Heart Association says proper use of an AED can double the chance of survival for victims of cardiac arrest.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.