West Allis man survives severe cardiac arrest on Christmas

Posted at 9:11 PM, Feb 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 23:34:47-05

A West Allis man who suffered a severe cardiac arrest remarkably has no lasting damage. First responders are calling it the perfect storm of life saving.

On Christmas Day, as the festivities and meals had wrapped up, Walter Schneider was bringing in gifts to his West Allis home. He made it as far as his living room couch when the 58-year-old told his daughter he felt strange.

"Just tired, just really heavy, tired, and I collapsed," said Schneider.

His daughter immediately dialed 911 for help. A fire truck with four paramedics was nearby. The crew raced in to find Schneider in bad shape.

"He was not breathing, no pulse," said Firefighter/Paramedic Jake Dettmering.

Schneider was in cardiac arrest, and the type he was in is almost unsurvivable.

"You usually have a three percent chance," said Interim Chief Mason Pooler.

Schneider hadn't been breathing for six minutes before crews got there. But it's what his daughter and a neighbor did that paramedics believe saved his life.

"The dispatcher instructed them how to do CPR, the neighbor was able to start it, and we were able to take over. So he kind of had no loss of pumping throughout his body for a lengthy period of time," said Firefighter/Paramedic Chris Kandrapally.

The paramedics still needed to shock Walter three times before his heart started beating and he started breathing. But that he was able to at all was a surprise even to paramedics.

"This is a very rare story," said Pooler.

"In ten years of doing this, this is my third that I have ever seen," said Dettmering.

"I actually should not be here, but there must be other plans for me that I still am," said Schneider.

The fire department reminds people that if you want to help someone in cardiac arrest, perform CPR. You don't need to do rescue breaths, just do chest compressions and call 911.

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