Heroic bystanders work together to save post office custodian's life

Published: Oct. 29, 2018 at 11:23 PM EDT
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An Osceola man is lucky to be alive after two co-workers and a complete stranger stepped in to provide aid when he went into cardiac arrest.

Only five percent of people who go into cardiac arrest outside of the hospital survive. Performing CPR is a skill many of us learn, but hope we never have to use.

Thanks to the work of two clerks at the Osceola Post Office and a teenage customer in line, custodian Paul Anderson is now alive and well.

"Every one of them played a part in that," Anderson said. "Had they not learned it, I wouldn't be here today."

His memory of last Tuesday is foggy, when Penn High School senior Logan Hill was waiting in line, and clerk Brenda Stahly saw him pass out.

"I was down there, praying and everything I guess I wanna say for a little while and I was praying 'oh lord please help me' I didn't know what to do," Stahly said. "I had done CPR before, but never in real life you know?"

Hill was waiting in line for service, but noticed no one was waiting on him or the other customer in front of him.

"Once she came up and said we have an emergency I can't help you guys right now, I looked back there and saw that Paul was on the ground," Hill said. "At first I was like, 'what should I do'? So then that's when I said 'I know CPR I can help'."

Seconds were ticking by quickly, but it felt like hours to all of them.

Kim, the other clerk, was on the phone with 911 dispatch who was helping them out, step by step.

"Pam came back and handed us the phone and Logan started chest compressions and I started giving him breaths," Stahly said. “The 9-1-1 operator was telling us exactly what to do and then after every 30 compressions she said ‘okay give him a couple breaths’ and so we did that and then we just kept going. That’s what we did and Paul’s still here thank goodness.”

"I was using my body weight to really do it, so I didn't think it took a lot of energy to do it, but I did feel like it was a long time," said Hill.

Fortunately, it only took about seven minutes for help to arrive, then paramedics took over.

"You know when you're in a moment like that it's like you don't remember every little detail, you just remember you gotta get the person back to where he needs to be," Stahly said.

Anderson, grateful for everyone who helped.

"I don't know that you can really express that in words, I don't know that there's words enough to actually say that," he said. "I don't know that I'll ever be able to express the gratitude."

The work of all, heroic.

“I don’t really think I’m a hero, but I’m glad that we did help him," Stahly said. “He really wasn’t supposed to have been working at that time, it just happened and if he hadn’t been here working the hours that he did that day he would have been by himself.”

“It’s an interesting impact on your life, but I would say more divinely appointed to still be here for a reason, and I don’t know what that is at this point, but there’s a purpose," Anderson said.

When Hill was a sophomore at Penn, he learned the CPR lifesaving skills. He emphasizes that it is crucial to take those lessons very seriously.

“Definitely take in everything the teacher is saying because I never thought that I was going to have to do this and in the time of action, it just all came back to me," Hill said.

Hill aspires to be a police officer and continue on the work of helping others.

“It’s crazy just helping someone just so that they can live," he said. "It was a big deal in my life and I’ll never forget it.”

Anderson went into cardiac arrest, which means his heart stopped beating fast enough to keep him alive. This is different than a heart attack when the heart is not getting enough blood to function.

He is expected to make a full recovery and now lives with a defibrillator inside of him that will help his heart to keep pumping and give him a slight shock should it stop.