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Man survives heart attack with help from friend and dispatcher

By Lauren Maxwell 9:02 PM December 16, 2013

The fire department will hold a “Survivor Recognition Ceremony” Tuesday.

ANCHORAGE – An Anchorage man is offering his gratitude to the people who saved his life.

The odds are high that Kevin Thompson wouldn’t be alive today if he hadn’t had a heart attack in front of his good friend Paul Spychalski. The fact that Spychalski called 911 and spoke to a dispatcher who knew exactly what to do was also critical.

On Nov. 11, the two men were working on a car in Thompson’s garage when he collapsed — falling to the floor and sliding under the car. Spychalski pulled him out and noticed his friend wasn’t breathing. He immediately dialed 911.

Dispatcher Lori Zaumseil answered the phone.

She asked two questions before determining Thompson was having a heart attack. She then told Spychalski to begin CPR, a skill he’d learned a decade ago.

For the next eight minutes the dispatcher helped Spychalski keep his friend alive. At one point Spychalski thought Thompson was breathing on his own, so Zaumseil asked him to put the phone up to his friend’s mouth. She could tell from the sounds he made that Thompson was not out of the woods, and instructed Spychalski to continue CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Spychalski kept at it until the ambulance came and paramedics took over.  A week later, Thompson was out of the hospital with a new pacemaker and a defibrillator, feeling grateful, he said.

Soon, Thompson will have a chance to meet the people who saved his life and tell them thank you.

The Anchorage Fire Department is holding a special “Survivor Recognition Ceremony” Tuesday.

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