Not many first responders get to reunite with the men and women whose lives they save, and it’s even rarer that they get to hear them say “thank you.” One week ago, however, the 11 men and women who saved Richard Nester’s life when he had a heart attack at Bunker Hill Golf Course in Ohio got to hear him say just that.
Nester, 66, was on a golf outing June 7 in Medina, Ohio, with co-workers when he began to complain of indigestion. “I went into the clubhouse of the golf course to get something for it, then blacked out,” the independent insurance agent recalled.
That’s when Tim Lowe and Chase Pinchot, two employees of the golf course, thought to call 911 before he collapsed, despite Nester’s protests that it was just a mere stomach problem. The paramedics showed up a few moments before he fell off a stool and lost his pulse and nearly his life.
“I was in the pro shop where it happened through the whole event,” Lowe said. “I heard the EMTs say on three separate occasions he had no pulse and was not breathing.”
The fire department arrived first, then the paramedics, who administered CPR and defibrillation.
“He had no pulse.” Jen Chidsey, the paramedic on scene from Medina Hospital, said. “We shocked him and he woke up for a few minutes and was responsive and talked to us. He collapsed again, we shocked him, he woke up again, then he collapsed again.
“That’s unusual, no matter how old you are.”
The same thing happened several more times as he was transported from the scene to Medina Hospital and later to Cleveland Clinic, where he made a recovery.
Doctors said the main artery feeding blood to his heart had been blocked, something that should have killed Nester, Medina Township Chief of Police David Arbogast said. “The fact he went into full cardiac arrest at the scene and is still alive today is very unique,” Arbogast said. “There was a 13 percent chance he would live.”
The 11 first responders, loved ones and the man himself all gathered last week for an emotional ceremony honoring a job well done.
“Very seldom in this work do you get feedback … you save and you move on,” Arbogast said. “It was very touching.”
Nester has lost some weight and has a defibrillator in his chest but has made a speedy recovery. “When he came down the steps we were all amazed and applauded,” paramedic Chidsey said. ” He’s very appreciative. We don’t usually get to see our patients after a call, especially one you’ve saved. I was in tears.”
Nester expects to return to his golfing days after doctors remove his defibrillator in early August. “I jokingly asked the guy who called it in if I get to finish my holes,” Nester said. “He said we could come back and play the whole 18 on them.”
Chief Arbogast said he plans to recognize the 11 people involved in Nester’s rescue at the next board of trustees meeting.