Cardiac arrest victims thank rescuers for saving them with CPR

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The odds that a person will survive going into cardiac arrest are one in 10 and on Monday two people who defied those odds stood up in San Francisco to honor their rescuers.

Ray Hanvey presented awards to the two people who saved his life. It was a position he never dreamed he'd be in.

"From that day you were my hero," Ray Hanvey said. "Thank you, Ashley. Thank you."

"I'm trained to do CPR, being an instructor," Hanvey said. "I've never had to perform it on somebody. I always thought that's where I would be, rather than being performed on me."

Hanvey collapsed while teaching an exercise class at the Stonestown YMCA where all the staff are required to know CPR.

"Anyone can be a first responder, and it's very important because it can happen to you, or it can happen to the person right next to you," Chuck Collins, YMCA president and CEO, said.

It wasn't just the compressions, but an automated external defibrillator saved Hanvey's life.

"I got shocked six times, but I was breathing on my own even before EMT got there," Anne Reiner said.

Anne Riener drove to San Francisco from Seattle to meet the men who saved her while she was in the city on vacation.

Both rescuers have been CPR certified for decades.

"I had a lot of training, and this is the first CPR that I've performed myself, so it was really overwhelming," Peter Schmidt said.

The ceremony happened as the San Francisco fire department continues to take heat over its ambulance response times. Firefighters did not shy away from that topic, saying in this case, it wasn't the ambulance but the training of ordinary citizens that made the difference.

"It's a skill that can be learned even at the high school level," said San Francisco fire chief Joanne Hayes-White. "I'd like to see it trained as part of high school curriculum."

Anne Riener's life has been saved by a defibrillator and CPR, not once, but twice.

"You think, oh well, the paramedics are going to be there on time and they're going to be able to save them, but it's not, it's typically the first responders who are there starting it before the paramedics get there that's going to make the difference."
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