The day before Thanksgiving, Simon Blake and his family met the Washington Township firefighter-paramedics who helped save his life.

The firefighter-paramedics responded to a 911 call the morning of Oct. 28, when the 64-year-old Dublin resident went into cardiac arrest.

Blake's wife, Elizabeth, had already begun CPR before paramedics arrived. The paramedics also were able to use an automatic mechanical chest-compression device now carried on all four of the departments' medic units.

Fire department officials say the LUCAS Chest Compression Systems administer CPR in a more efficient manner, allowing paramedics to perform other types of care and procedures.

LUCAS is an acronym for Lund University Cardiac Assist System. The systems allow for continuous, consistent CPR compressions without breaks -- the best way to get a pulse back on a person suffering from cardiac arrest, said Troy Elmore, Washington Township's Emergency Medical Services manager.

Grant funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Fund helped Washington Township's fire department purchase LUCAS chest-compression systems for the departments' four medic units.

Before that, the fire department had only one LUCAS device that was assigned to the battalion chief's vehicle.

Elizabeth Blake said her husband had been having fainting episodes since mid-August, although medical professionals told them his heart was not to blame.

On Oct. 28, Simon Blake was talking to his son, Ryan, on the phone and told him he was having another fainting episode.

After Simon Blake stopped talking, Ryan called Elizabeth Blake, who was in another room of the residence and told her what was happening.

This time, Simon Blake's episode was different, Elizabeth Blake said.

He was on the bed, gasping for air. He didn't respond when she elevated his legs and slapped him.

She called 911 and the emergency services communications technician talked her through administering CPR, she said.

When paramedics arrived, they took over administering CPR with the LUCAS device, she said.

"I was just hysterical the whole time," she said.

Simon Blake was taken to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, where he stayed in the intensive-care unit for 10 days.

The CPR Elizabeth Blake performed is key to helping those suffering from cardiac arrest survive, said Mike Riebel, a Washington Township battalion chief and one of the paramedics who responded to her 911 call.

"Those minutes are vital," he said.

Brain cells start to die within 4 to 6 minutes of being deprived of oxygen, so the longer someone lies untreated, the more potential there is for damage, said Chris Biasella, a firefighter-paramedic who also assisted Simon Blake.

Because all four medic units are equipped with LUCAS devices, paramedics were able to immediately start using it to administer CPR when they arrived on scene, instead of waiting for Riebel to arrive about two minutes later.

Although Simon Blake said he can't remember the care he received that day, he said meeting the paramedics who helped save his life brought up intense feelings in him.

"It was a most emotional and rewarding experience," he said.

For her part, Elizabeth Blake said the opportunity to meet the paramedics that helped her and her husband was a wonderful thing.

"It was just an amazing, blessed event," she said. "It was a great Thanksgiving."

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah