Rescue crews recognized for saving councilman’s life

Rescue crews recognized for saving councilman’s life

Town Councilor Charles Collins thanks rescue crews from Harmony Fire Department for saving his life after he had a massive heart attack on Feb. 1. From left are Fire Chief Richard Waterman, Collins, EMS Capt. Justin Lema, Lt. George Nichols, Private Michael Sears, Private Nathan Wuorio and Robin Collins. (Breeze photo by Jackie Moorehead)

SCITUATE – Town Councilor Charles Collins recognized the symptoms and pains of a heart attack. He said he had felt them before Feb. 1 when the telltale pangs began while he was delivering oil for his business, Collins Burner Service.

Harmony Fire Department Chief Richard Waterman recalled the “very unusual” phone call from Collins at 9:26 p.m. that night. He said while most people describe the chest pain to 911 operators, Collins said calmly, “I’m having a heart attack.”

Collins said he had heart problems before, and when he felt the familiar pain while pumping oil at a home on Cooper Road in Glocester that night, he walked back to his truck and called 911.

At the time, Collins said his pain level was 10 out of 10.

On Thursday, May 2, Collins, his family, council members and members of the Harmony Fire Department participated in an award ceremony where Collins and the town issued certificates of commendation from the Scituate and Glocester for saving the councilman’s life.

“I have no lack of words for the men who helped me that night. Without them, I wouldn’t be here,” Collins said.

Collins spent weeks in the hospital for bypass surgery on his heart. He spent two days in a medically induced coma following the heart attack, and then spent two weeks in the hospital before getting major heart surgery. If crews had not responded as quickly and efficiently, Collins said he would have died that night.

After 33 years serving in the Police Department, Collins said he understands the sacrifices first responders make to do their job.

“When it comes to this line of work, I know the amount of time it takes away from the family. I want to thank you,” he told public safety workers.
Firefighters Michael Sears, Russell Dixon and Nathan Wuorio of the Harmony Fire Department responded to the call on Feb. 1, arriving on scene in four minutes. EMS Capt. Justin Lema and Lt. George Nichols responded from their homes and arrived on scene moments later.

While some crew members worked on Collins, another disconnected the oil line from the house and moved his truck to a secure location.

Twelve minutes after Collins called for help, he was secured in the back of an ambulance and leaving for the hospital. En route, he went into full cardiac arrest. Crews pulled over to put their full attention to resuscitating Collins, performing CPR and jump-starting his heart with a defibrillator.

“They stopped on the side of Route 295 to provide a life-saving measure that needed all the men. Within 14 seconds, Collins returned consciousness to non-arrest,” Waterman said.

Collins said he doesn’t remember that part of the journey, but he remembers waking up after crews jump-started his heart. He said that was the beginning of his long trip back to health.

The patient and crews arrived at Rhode Island Hospital at 10:03 p.m., 37 minutes after the initial call was made. While crew members said they were just doing their jobs, family members and doctors say differently.

Town Council President James Brady thanked the members of the Harmony Fire Department for their heroic life-saving actions that saved his former Scituate Police Department partner.

Brady said if it were not for the crews’ quick thinking and action in a stressful situation, Collins would not be alive today.

Collins said though he planned on retiring in September, he is mostly retired at this point. He said he’s eating healthier and walking two or three miles each day. He said he hopes to spend time in Florida with his wife and continue to serve on the council.

Comments

Very nice story - kudos to the firefighters and kudos to the Breeze for this great human interest story.