Off-duty nurse helps save great-grandfather having heart attack roadside

A Queen Creek great-grandfather met up with the group of people who saved his life earlier this month. Something Good is sponsored by Papa Murphy's
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 2:38 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GILBERT, Ariz. (KPHO/Gray News) - A great-grandfather from Arizona thanked the nurse and first responders who kept him alive after he had a massive heart attack while driving home.

After 69-year-old Bob Durling finished a long-distance bicycle ride on Aug. 6, he felt fine while putting his bike in his SUV and heading home. But partway into the drive, something went wrong, KPHO reports.

“I was in the left lane when, all of a sudden, my world just got dizzy. I never felt that dizzy in my life,” Durling said. “Thought this would pass, and then, my heart stopped. I blacked out.”

Courtney Johnson, a nurse, was on her way home from an overnight shift at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center’s trauma intensive care unit. She saw that Durling had ended up hitting a curb, and a man was banging on the SUV.

“I see Bob slouched against the window,” Johnson said. “As soon as I saw his face, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s something major going on here.’”

Another man broke the window, and he and Johnson got Durling out of the SUV.

“He had no pulse,” Johnson said.

The nurse started CPR and told another person to go get help. Crews from the Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department then showed up. Durling still didn’t have a pulse, and they got right to work.

“Got the pads and established the airways,” said Gilbert Fire and Rescue Capt. Jose Garcia.

First responders used a defibrillator on Durling, but his heart wasn’t beating, so they continued CPR. Firefighters did another heart rhythm check, shocked him again and gave him a drug to get a pulse back while they continued CPR. Crews used the defibrillator for a third time, and this time, they got his pulse back.

“That’s when his eyes started to open,” Garcia said. “He started looking around, and that’s not usual for a code call like that.”

Durling was rushed to the hospital, and doctors found that his carotid artery was 99% blocked. He underwent surgery, where surgeons put in a cardiac stent and a defibrillator.

Now, a month later, Durling is getting back to his old ways. He walks in the morning and is riding his bicycle every other day but for only about 3 miles.

Durling reunited Thursday with Johnson and the Fire and Rescue crew for a special thank you. They all signed the shirt Durling was wearing that fateful day, which had to be cut off.

“It sends tingles up your spine to see Bob come in here. We saw him a month ago on the worst day of his life, I’m guessing, and today, we get to see him again,” Garcia said. “It’s an absolute joy to see him walk through the door.”

The group also took photos and promised to keep in touch.

“It is truly overwhelming right now, OK, to try and hold everything back. I’m not the crying type of person, but it just, all these guys and Courtney and everybody came together to literally save my life,” Durling said.