A Lawrence man's quick action saved a heart attack victim.
Addie Geiger has a good reason to celebrate Thanksgiving today -- a Lawrence man's quick action saved the life of her 79-year-old husband, Walter.
"I am so thankful," Mrs. Geiger said Wednesday afternoon at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The couple were on a walk near their home Tuesday afternoon on the west side of the 2000 block of Massachusetts Street when Walter suffered a heart attack.
"He leaned on me, and I fell with him," Mrs. Geiger said. She tried to help him up, but couldn't. And she had a cellular phone with her but couldn't get it to work.
Mrs. Geiger ran two houses down to her home but couldn't get in because her husband had the keys in his pocket. She knew time was going by quickly. She ran to a neighbor's house and called 911.
Mrs. Geiger rushed back outside to find her husband surrounded by people.
"I thought he was dead," she said. "Then I saw this man giving CPR."
It was Judd Choate, an assistant political science professor at Baker University.
Choate, 27, who lives in an apartment in downtown Lawrence, said he had been driving home from Baldwin. He had just turned north on Massachusetts when he saw a man lying on the ground, with a second man running up to him. Choate drove by, looking.
"I just instinctively decided I needed to turn around," he said. "I did a U-turn and parked into the driveway next to them."
He ran over, crouched down and checked Geiger.
"He didn't have a pulse and was turning blue," Choate said. "As I was checking for a pulse, he gasped for a breath of air."
Choate asked the other man if he knew how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. The other man didn't say anything, but the two of them opened Geiger's shirt.
And Choate, remembering a CPR demonstration he saw 12 years ago in a high school health class, began the heart-pumping chest compressions on Geiger.
"He was gasping for air about once every 20 seconds. But his heart wasn't pumping and he clearly wasn't breathing regularly," Choate said
As he continued CPR, other people arrived. He learned the man's name was Walter.
"So I started saying, 'Come on, Walter, help me,'" Choate said.
Within four to five minutes, Douglas County Fire & Medical paramedics arrived in an ambulance. And Choate continued with the CPR until paramedics took over.
Geiger was taken to LMH, where he was in stable condition Wednesday.
Brian Lawrence, a medical battalion chief for Douglas County Fire & Medical, said Choate's quick action definitely saved Geiger.
"The fact that CPR was initiated immediately upon his collapse gave him the best chance for survival that anybody could have," Lawrence said. "Certainly what this gentleman did for the patient is what helped him survive."
Mrs. Geiger said she was thankful Choate stopped to help.
"A lot of people don't pay any attention," she said. "He saved his life -- that's what the doctor said."
Geiger said she and her four grown children and their families were grateful to Choate.
"He was wonderful," she said. "One of the ambulance people said we really need more people like that."
"To be honest, I'm just glad I stopped to help," said Choate, who is spending the holiday with family in Hays. "I've never had anything like this happen to me in my life."
-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.