Taking a roundabout way back to work on a Tuesday afternoon in July, Courtney Melanson saw a man laying on the ground with one hand gripping a running lawnmower.
“I instantly knew something was wrong,” Melanson said Friday afternoon, standing feet away from the man whose heart stopped beating outside his Asylum Avenue home on July 25.
Melanson, 20, a teaching assistant for high school students with special needs at Gengras Center, was one of seven people recognized for their quick and crucial response, which meant that Len Glazier, 88, was talking but groggy when he was transported to the hospital.
Glazier, 87-years-old at the time, had gone food shopping, gotten gas for his car but he didn’t get a haircut, the next item on his to-do list that day.
“All I know is I was cutting the grass and I passed out and fortunately someone saw it happen, they called 911,” Glazier said.
Patti Gleason, also recognized Friday, was heading home after a trip to the grocery store when she saw Glazier. He was upright and then it appeared he had tripped. When Gleason got out of the car, a woman on the phone with 911 told her: “I think he just had a seizure.”
Gleason, a nurse practitioner at Hartford Hospital, felt for a pulse — he didn’t have one. She started chest compressions for what she said felt like 10 minutes, she said, when West Hartford police officers arrived. First responders later told her it had been two minutes since the 911 call was made that police were on scene.
Officer Peter Senick used an AED defibrillator for the first time in his career and Officer Nicholas Roman assisted with CPR. West Hartford firefighters assisted and AMR paramedic Brett Ortola got Glazier into the ambulance.
“There’s no words to express my feelings,” Glazier said. “The doctors told me it was a miracle.”
Those recognized included: Officers Roman and Senick, AMR paramedic Ortola, and West Hartford firefighters Craig Larsen, Troy Shipley, Kerry Warren and Robert Michalak.
Brandon Bartell, AMR operations supervisor, said the “chance of survival is very slim” for what Glazier experienced.
“He’s living proof that CPR works,” Bartell said.
After a week in the hospital and four to five weeks in rehab, Glazier is now home.
Ortola said things fell into place: the bystanders who helped, that Glazier was in his front lawn and not behind his house, and first responders’ quick actions to the call was “textbook.”
“I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and this is the first patient that I’ve actually met that walked out of the hospital after cardiac arrest,” Ortola said. “It’s pretty surreal.”