The late October day that Gary Farer's heart stopped for nearly an hour after he was driving in Factoria may have turned out to be one of the luckiest days of his life.
That's because three passersby--Dominic Dimino of Renton, Gary Elbaum of West Seattle and David Howe of Lake Goodwin, all in different vehicles--noticed Farer, a Bonney Lake resident, slumped over behind the wheel of his car and helped him with their quick thinking and CPR.
Farer, 59, was revived and spent a month recuperating from his heart attack at . On Thursday, he met Dimino, Elbaum and Howe at Bellevue Fire Station 2.
The also presented Dimino, Elbaum and Howe with the Citizens' Award for Merit.
"It's just really neat to meet heroes like that. Just everyday people. Someday we hope we can do that, return that, for someone else," Farer said. "You live your life and hope that you get a chance to pay some of that back."
Howe, a 26-year-old construction worker going home from a job that day, said that he, Elbaum, 54, and Dimino, 30, both T-Mobile employees, all noticed that Farer had collapsed and came to his aid.
The doors of Farer's Mercedes were locked. Dimino, a former Army medic, tried to kick in the windows of the car, and Howe pulled a hammer from his truck to smash the back window open.
The men pulled Farer from the car and got him to the ground to start CPR, Elbaum said.
"As Dominic went into the car he had the state of mind to pull the emergency brake up so the car wouldn't keep going," Elbaum said.
Elbaum said that he and his wife and daughter are trained in CPR and had been discussing the recent changes to the recommendations for it--to focus on chest compressions instead of rescue breathing and to compress to the beat of the Bee Gees song "Stayin' Alive."
Dimino said that Elbaum took the lead on the CPR and continued it until the paramedics arrived.
"He did a fantastic job. They were all even, they were all great, that's the reason he (Farer) got breathing again," Dimino said.
Farer's heartbeat was restored at Overlake Hospital Medical Center after 55 minutes without a pulse, said Farer and his wife, Dinah.
Farer spent a month at Overlake Hospital, and while initially suffered from some short-term memory loss, has recovered remarkably and is back at work as the vice president of business development for NETS International, an international telecommunications services firm, his doctor said.
"He was back at work in two and a half weeks after he left the hospital after heart surgery," said Robert Binford, Farer's cardiac surgeon at Overlake. "Those guys, the paramedics, the people in the emergency room, just, they did everything perfect, or he wouldn't be here. It's amazing."
Binford said that it was important for everyday citizens to realize the importance of CPR training and becoming comfortable with CPR and using defibrillator devices.
"I think people understand that it's important, but I think that people don't spend the time to get the training. It's an afternoon. It's hard to take the time to do it, but it's important. You never know who and when that opportunity to save someone's life," Binford said.
Farer and his wife, who have a daughter in Las Vegas and a son in Bonney Lake, said that he was fortunate that he came across not only three people who were quick thinkers and were trained in CPR, and that he got the medical attention he did at Overlake.
"In a way, it was really neat that it happened and I was up here because I was by the people that I needed to be," he said. "I could have been in an office by myself."
He also said that it was lucky that he came across three people who stepped forward to help a stranger.
"There's so many people who won't step out of their comfort zone because of the way it is today, and I had three people who just ... just went every step that helped me, that if they had not been there it would have been a different outcome," Farer said.