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UPDATED: Bystanders, EMTs on San Juan try to revive apparent heart attack victim

San Juan EMTs work to revive an apparent heart attack victim on First Street, shortly after noon. The individual
San Juan EMTs work to revive an apparent heart attack victim on First Street, shortly after noon. The individual's condition was not known; the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 allows health information to be released only to family members.
— image credit: Ron Bates

Laura Bauer and her sister, Erin Flynn, were reading a menu in the window of Golden Triangle when they heard a "clunk."

It was the sound of a man falling to the ground — first against a sign on the wall, onto which he rested his hand, and then onto the concrete sidewalk.

Flynn, an oncology nurse in Los Angeles, and Jim Cumming, who also witnessed the man's collapse, sprung into action. The man on the ground had no pulse, so Flynn and Cumming administered CPR until EMTs arrived.

Flynn said the man was in his late 60s or early 70s. Cumming administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while she administered chest compressions. A "woman in pink" — Flynn said she might have been a nurse — offered assistance. Someone brought an automatic defibrillator to the scene.

"It was unbelievable," Flynn said of the immediate response.

"Everyone pulled together," Bauer added. "We were so impressed with the EMTs and the ambulance. Two minutes and they were there."

The man's condition was not known this afternoon; the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 — also known as HIPAA — allows health information to be released only to family members.

Flynn said that despite her medical experience — and the fact that she had a similar experience at the hospital a month and a half ago — she was shaken by today's events.

"I don't think you ever get used to it," she said. "I'm praying for the family. I hope he made it."

She was appreciative of Cumming's readiness to assist. "I'm going to call him next. I want to thank him. That was teamwork."

Keri Talbott, a hospital district commissioner and firefighter, said the incident illustrates the importance of knowing CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Talbott said her cousin was 12 years old when he revived a teacher who had collapsed in his classroom. "Now, my 10-year-old has a CPR card," she said.

Talbott said Assistant Fire Chief Frank Chaffee and EMT Lainie Volk hold CPR training four to six times a year. To register for a class, call 378-4183 or 378-5152.

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