In the first moments of a heart attack, I imagine one helplessly hopes someone, anyone, is there to save your life. The amazing event that unfolded around Richard Schlesinger, who fell unconscious to the street on July 17, appears to be a seamless, nearly miraculous rescue.* Additionally, it recalls for me the chorus of “Helplessly Hoping,” the 1969 song by Crosby, Stills & Nash: “They are one person. They are two alone. They are three together. They are for each other.”
But Richard was not just “one person.” Or he wouldn’t be here today.
“They are two alone.” Miraculously, two strangers passing by called 911 and began emergency CPR, keeping Richard alive.
“They are three together,” Within moments a state trooper arrived, as did a Cornwall trained Emergency Medical Technician who assisted with CPR.
“They are for each other.” Another EMT arrived with an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) that started Richard’s heart beating. The ambulance crew and paramedics arrived shortly thereafter. Of the cloud of 19 people who attended Richard, only the paramedics and trooper were paid professionals. The successful outcome was the result of 12 caring Cornwall volunteers and several others who gave of themselves to save a life. Richard reflected during his return to health, “Cornwall is a special place, a place where people help one another. It made all the difference in my life.”
Following the incident, we’ve seen a spike in interest to learn the life-saving CPR process. Two successful CPR classes were held in August. Two other over-subscribed sessions will take place in September. To sign up for a potential October class or for more information, contact CVFD EMS Captain Elizabeth Ridgway at email@example.com.
Cornwall fire and ambulance volunteers regularly drill and train to skillfully answer any call. We know CPR and how to use the 17 AEDs deployed throughout town. Your CVFD stands ready, at a moment’s notice, to serve our neighbors. Consider joining us. Talk with a CVFD member or go to cornwallfire.org. “We are for each other!”
– Richard Sears
*For a full account of the rescue and Richard’s letter of gratitude see The Lakeville Journal of August 5, 2021.
This is a transcript of the remarks Richard Schlesinger made thanking all these many people involved in his rescue, which was miraculous and prompted his doctor in Hartford to tell him: “You know, there’s really no reason that you’re alive right now.” Well, there was a reason: the spirit of Cornwall.
I had no idea. I knew that there were a lot of people involved in this, but wow, those numbers are something. So I guess I’m one of the guys behind the numbers.
It’s a little embarrassing because, you know, I make my living with words. But really, it’s hard to come up with the words to say thank you. Let me give it a whirl.
I hope that you guys know how grateful somebody in my position would be to what you all did. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were amazed when I told them the story particularly about Joyce’s AED [Joyce Hart and her Automatic External Defibrillator] that she happened to have in the trunk of her car half a block away.
It was a strange thing to hear a doctor say, but he said as I was lying in the ICU: “You know, there’s really no reason that you’re alive right now.” I’m like, “You’re the doctor, I don’t think you should be saying that tonight.”
But it really speaks to what an incredible effort this was and how incredibly grateful I need to be. And I need to find the words to tell you that.
John and I were having dinner a couple nights ago with Diane Beebe and Micki [Nunn-Miller]. I said, you know, I don’t know what I’m going to say to these people. I mean I’ve never had to thank somebody for saving my life. And she said, “Why don’t you just say thank you, drop the mic and go?”
I really can’t do that tempting as it might be. So I thought what’s really important might not be how I feel about what you do, but how you should feel about what you do. And how I hope you feel about what you do all the time. I hope that you all feel exceptional, because you wake up every day, ready, willing and able to save a life, because that’s who you are. And when that tone sounds, by the way, I thought I heard one earlier, but I haven’t seen anybody running, so I guess that’s okay. But when the tone sounds, no matter what time, you don’t hesitate. You run to help, because that’s what you do. And when your help is needed you don’t give up, because that’s how you’re wired. So the temptation is to call you all heroes. Pardon me, if I don’t, because I think that word is a little overused. I think you guys seek no laurels or seek no recognition, because true heroism doesn’t need any of that. True heroes like you do what you do because you are who you are.
So, pardon me for getting a little emotional about that, but I owe you guys a lot. So let me just say from the bottom of my factory refurbished heart, thank you for saving my life.
And one more thing, if any one of you guys comes after me with that Lucas machine [chest compression device]