Friday, Nov 28, 2014

Dunedin heart attack survivor says "thanks"


Published:   |   Updated: June 27, 2013 at 09:12 PM

ST. PETERSBURG - All of the pieces of March 26, 2013, a day completely erased from Josh Brown's memory, were put together Thursday morning when the Dunedin man and his wife went to the Fossil Park Fire Station to thank those who helped save his life.

A series of people in the right place at the right time are responsible for the 32-year-old surviving a heart attack that day.

Dawn Moser skipped her morning coffee at Starbucks because the line was too long and arrived early to open the Sports Bar and Grill on 94th Avenue North, where Brown was delivering beer for Great Bay Distribution.

She found him slumped, face-down, over the passenger seat of his truck and pounded on the door of a nearby gym, whose owner, Phil Beatty, is trained in CPR.

An off-duty firefighter and emergency medical technician, Zach Hughes, happened to notice the commotion from the gym, where he was taking a class, and rushed out to help.

Fossil Park firefighters arrived quickly.

After almost 15 minutes of compression CPR, Brown's pulse came back. He was starting to breathe again as they rushed him to Northside Hospital.

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Brown told those gathered at the fire station Thursday.

Brown said he still has a little trouble with his memory, but otherwise there are no lingering physical or mental effects from his heart attack.

Beatty and Hughes said they are amazed at Brown's recovery.

When Beatty, the first to perform CPR, started working on Brown, he had a blue tongue, lips and hands. His eyes were black, his pupils completely dilated. The rest of his body was gray.

"All I could think about was this is a young guy," Beatty said Thursday.

Relatives of survivors of near-death episodes often bring in thank-you cards, but responders don't often meet those they have helped, Hughes said.

"That's pretty cool to see him up and walking just a couple of months later," Hughes said. "It's the greatest reward you can get."

When the hospital called Carrie Brown to tell her that her husband had suffered a heart attack, medical workers said they were inducing hypothermia to try and protect his brain from further damage.

They "froze" him for two days, she said. She was so grateful when they raised his body temperature and he started blinking in response to his name.

Brown woke up on his 32nd birthday. By the next day, he was reciting quotes as the couple watched "A Bug's Life" - one of his favorite movies - and naming the Tampa Bay Lightning players as they watched the team beat the Buffalo Sabres.

Brown is no longer able to drive delivery trucks for Great Bay Distribution, but the company gave him a different job. He is exercising again - although he's not yet back to the 15-20 mile cycling trips he enjoyed before his heart attack. And he, his wife and their friends are determined to become CPR-certified.

"These past three months have reshaped my life," he said. "It's been rough, but I can't believe I'm standing here."

sdrumm@tampatrib.com

Twitter: @saradrumm

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