SJ firefighter back to duty after heart attack

April 1, 2013 12:30:04 PM PDT
A San Jose firefighter went back on duty Monday after suffering a massive heart attack while fighting a fire last summer. Frank Ryan, a 17-year-veteran, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest at least three times on the way to the hospital.

There was special breakfast and hugs and laughter dominated Fire Station Number 1 as Ryan, 42, returned to duty for the first time in seven months. "I know the last couple months I've been getting healthier and it's easier to start thinking about what happened," Ryan said.

He suffered the massive heart attack August 30 while battling a fire at St. Patrick's Cathedral. They all say Ryan was in the right place at the right time. The care he received on the scene was critical to his survival. He was in a medically -induced coma for six days and released from the hospital in about three weeks.

Over the last seven months, he's been doing cardiac rehab and working out in the gym, the whole time, anxious to return to fighting fires. "When you've been doing it this long and you get the normalcy taken out of your life, it's a little awkward. So soon as you guys all leave, it'll be good," he said laughingly.

Ryan says he's had to change his diet a little but mainly stayed modest about the strides he's made since last August. The firefighters who helped save him are modest at best. Ryan says he could never thank them enough for saving his life. "All I can do is go to work and if somebody needs me, hopefully, I can do the same. These guys aren't going to take thank-yous very well. I don't think anybody in this profession does. So, I think they know it," he said.

Ryan's next shifts are Wednesday and Friday. Asked if he thought about easing back into the demanding schedule of a firefighter, he said his bosses gave him that option but he wanted to come back full-time immediately.


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