Dale Reiner (center, standing) was saved in April by CPR performed by a family friend and local firefighters after he had a heart attack. He invited the firefighters to his 75th birthday party June 10 to thank them. (Snohomish County Fire District 7)

Family, friends helped save man after heart attack

MONROE — Dale Reiner was going to spend April 15 with family.

The morning started with grandson Connor’s soccer game. The 13-year-old and his dad, Jason, were supposed to come over to the house later.

Jason brought friends to load some antique tractors Dale wanted to donate to 4-H. Moments later, Dale collapsed from a heart attack. The people around him helped save his life.

Kirk Swain, of Arlington, was among Jason’s friends. His work requires him to know CPR. As Swain started chest compressions, Jason called 911.

At Fire District 7, battalion chief Mike Dickinson recognized the address on the call. His niece Melissa is married to Jason. She is Connor’s mother. This was family.

Dickinson was there 5 minutes later. His crews took over CPR. He put a comforting arm around Charlene, Dale’s wife of 51 years.

Bystander CPR made a difference, said Jeremy Yoder, the lead paramedic. And that wasn’t the end of Dale’s good fortune.

Medics in District 7 have been trying a new technique for applying shocks after heart attacks. It’s called double sequential defibrillation. They also continued compressions for 35 minutes, while an unconscious Dale kept fighting to breathe.

He was taken to EvergreenHealth Monroe and then Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Charlene’s children made sure she never had to drive herself between there and home.

Six days after the heart attack, the doctor told Jason the decision was approaching on how long to keep his father on life support. Within 24 hours, Dale regained consciousness.

Jason had to tell his wife on the phone.

Their older son, Dylan, 15, had been urged to go ahead to his long-scheduled robotics competition out of state. Melissa had to travel with him. When Jason called, “I lost it in the stands,” she said. She told Dylan, “Papa’s awake.”

Dale remembers what he was thinking that day: He was alive and he had his family. He pulled his wife close, gave her a kiss and told her he loved her.

Weeks later, on June 10, the family hosted a “75 and Alive” birthday party on their farm along the Skykomish River. Dale wanted two gifts: for his rescuers to be invited and for his relatives to learn CPR.

Dickinson, the battalion chief, brought about a dozen firefighters to the party. The opportunity was meaningful for them. Dickinson has 40 years on the job. The crews rarely get to see the final outcomes of their good work, he said.

Dale, meanwhile, has decided to quit working so much. He had quadruple bypass surgery decades ago. A stent followed. Now he has another stent, a defibrillator implant and a pacemaker.

He taught Connor to fish last summer. Earlier this week, the teen reminded Dale they need to schedule their next fishing trip.

His Papa agreed.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

CPR

For information about learning CPR, contact your local fire department or American Red Cross office.

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