Heart attack victim thanks CPR stranger

January 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
May 20 was pretty much like any other day on Market Street. Strangers, minding their own business, following routines.

"It's always been the same; I run up the stairs and I go to work."

Though Phillip Cassou did not know it, his life was about to change. Before reaching his office, he passed out, cold on the bricks, from a heart attack.

"I was gone and I don't know where I went, but I was gone for 20 minutes," Cassou said.

And he might have been gone, forever, if not for one man, Phil Bossiere, who had been in his car, dropping his girlfriend off for work.

Boissiere saw the dying man, left his car in the street, and applied CPR.

"He's just a stranger, but he's a person, he's a human; he needed help; you do what you need to do, hopefully someone would do it for me," Boissiere said.

Based on records, Boissiere's CPR kept alive a man with no heart rate, no respiration and no response, until the fire department took over.

"And then everybody was gone, Cassou was gone, just me, in my car in the street, just trying to think about what happened."

Eight months later, at the corner of Fremont and Market streets, there is no sign of the incident. But much has happened in the time since; Boissiere is now engaged to that girlfriend, Cassou is back on the job.

But there was one bit of unfinished business, the two had never met.

Thursday night, at a meeting of the San Francisco Fire Commission, there was a commendation ceremony. Cassou thanked everyone who helped and presented Station 13 with a piece of breathing equipment to help others like him.

At the meeting, Cassou and Boissiere were finally able to meet. One man remembers every detail from that day, the other remembers nothing.

But one lives because the other took action.