JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 46-year-old man was reunited Thursday with the first responders who he credits with saving his life last month when he suffered from a heart attack and flatlined five times on the way to the hospital.
Brian Winters thanked the entire crew of firefighters and paramedics at Fire Station 49 for their selfless service with an ornament and told them how valued they are in the community, especially during the holiday season.
Winters said he is alive and able to celebrate the holidays with his family because of the rescuers at Fire Station 49 who responded when he had to call 911 on Oct. 18 after doing yard work.
"I just remember waking up to my shirt ripped off," Winter said.
Fire Station 49 Capt. Earl Acosta was one of crew members called to Winters' home when he was suffering from a massive heart attack.
"We put the patches on and shocked you. And it probably felt like a mule hit you. You made a remark that was, you know, 'What in the heck is that?' Which is great for me, because it tells me your back," Acosta said.
Acosta said Winters flatlined four more times on the way to UF Health hospital.
"When I shocked you and you woke up, you said, 'Tell my wife and son I love them.' I said, 'You're going to have to tell them yourself because we're about to be at the hospital.' I said, 'Don't you go nowhere,'" Acosta said.
Winters held on. But he said he wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for Acosta and the rest of his crew.
"Three-hundred sixty-five days a year, seven days a week, storms, kids' birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving -- we are always here. It's a calling. What we do is not just a job," Acosta said.
Acosta said moments like Thursday make it all worth it.
"I commend your entire crew, firefighters and paramedics, for their outstanding support during the crisis. Merely saying 'thank you' to the crew that saved my husband's life seems to fall short in comparison for what you all did for him that day," said Lisa Winters.
According to his family, Winters didn’t have any sort of health history that could have led to his heart attack, saying his most recent EKG came back normal.
Now his family wants it to be a message to everyone to know the symptoms of a heart attack, so they can act quickly.
Winters is now doing much better despite having an incident a few days ago that sent him back to the hospital. Thankfully, he said, all his tests came back normal and he feels stronger and even more fortunate to be alive.