Pa. heart attack victim thanks his saviors

By Rob Luff
Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania)

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Harold "Bruce" McNew had just entered Shippensburg's American Legion on April 21 when his heart stopped.

The place froze as McNew's wife, Dianna, and Rick Shoemaker, a firefighter for Upper Frankford Volunteer Fire Co., jumped into action, applying CPR.

"He didn't have a pulse, and Rick said 'I'm doing it,' so I said 'Okay,'" Dianna McNew said Friday.

One minute later, at 6:16 p.m., a team from Shippensburg Area Emergency Medical Services arrived to find Shoemaker at work, then applied a defibrillator shock to his heart.

"They got there so quick, it was two minutes," Dianna McNew said.

A ceremony was held Friday to honor Shoemaker, the emergency medical technicians and paramedics who helped save Harold McNew's life.

Each of them received a certificate and pin from the Emergency Health Services Federation, recognizing their quick response time. They had arrived at the American Legion post on Dykeman Road within one minute of receiving the call, and got him to Chambersburg Hospital 21 minutes later.

McNew attended the celebration to thank each of them personally.

"Thank you, all of you," he said. "You people are just unbelievable."

Shoemaker, who had happened to be at the bar when McNew had the heart attack, joked with him about the CPR.

"It wasn't me kissing you, it was your wife," he said.

Following the celebration, McNew emphasized the need for everybody to learn CPR, a lesson he learned the hard way.

According to Dr. Aylmer Tang, McNew's arteries were badly clogged, causing his heart to stop. His left, main valve, which medical professionals know as the "widow maker," had nearly shut down.

Shoemaker's CPR prior to EMS arrival is most likely what saved his life, he said.

"All these people, basically, actually saved my life," he said, pointing to Shoemaker. "Learning how to do (CPR), that's what saved my life."

He is "living proof" of the effectiveness of CPR, he said, and of the need to learn it.

Copyright 2009 Public Opinion
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