Luck Strikes Twice

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 10:03am

Man's coworkers revive him after two heart attacks months apart.

Herb Swift survived a massive heart attack and he has his coworkers to thank for it - twice.

"They say I was dead for a half-hour," said Swift from his hospital bed. "Who dies for a half-hour without brain damage? I had no warning, I just passed out, my head fell forward. And the next thing I remember, I'm waking up in the hospital at two in the morning."

"He was just slumped over in his seat. Head down. Real labored breathing," said Scott Justesen, Swift's co-worker.

Last July Swift was operating an excavator at a landscaping project when he suffered the heart attack.

Justesen, the foreman for Pacific Earthworks, says there was no time to panic.

"When 911 says start CPR, you just start it and do it. You don't think about it too much," said Justesen.

Justesen and EllRoy Oster, the site's superintendent, pumped Swift's chest for ten minutes until medics arrived. Both men were trained on the job in CPR.

"The instructor says you'll probably not have to use it but it's good to know it," said Oster. "Fortunately, we know it and had a chance to use it to save his life."

Usually, saving someone's life is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

In this case, the opportunity came knocking last week when it happened again.

Swift was back on the job and in the excavator when he had another heart attack.

"Exact same style head down and I thought 'Oh no. This can't happen twice,'" said Oster.

"Especially same guy, same area. The odds of that happening are one-in-a-million," said Justesen.

Once again, Swift's co-workers save his life.

"I love 'em all," said Swift.

He says everyone should learn CPR, but the 52-year-old double heart attack survivor had this advice as well.

"Enjoy life, help as many people as you can, be thankful," said Swift.

Swift would also like to thank the staff at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

He could be released from the hospital as early as Tuesday.
 

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