Oglesbee with firefighters

John Oglesbee takes ice cream to the Flower Mound Fire Department a few times a year after they helped save his life in 2014 when he suffered a heart attack. Pictured are (from left) Dr. Sean Flemming, the fire department's medical director, Oglesbee, Capt. Robert Sprabary, Firefighter Jason Bowman and Assistant Chief Fred Calhoun.

Every couple of months, John Oglesbee takes six gallons of ice cream to the Flower Mound firefighters.

It’s a small way of saying "thank you" to a group of first responders who gave the Flower Mound resident a second shot of life.

It’s a second chance that Oglesbee, 71, admits he is beyond lucky to have.

On the evening of April 15, 2014, Oglesbee suffered a heart attack while he and his wife, Jacqueline, were at home watching TV.

This came hours after Oglesbee had had a typical, yet busy, day that included delivering flowers to the hospital, replacing a full set of brakes on his car and running four miles.

Oglesbee had been a healthy man. He was not overweight, and doctors said he had no blocked arteries and had good blood pressure. But that night, it didn’t matter. Doctors told him that plaque somehow lodged into a small vein in the backside of his heart, causing the heart attack.

His wife noticed that something wasn’t right as Oglesbee sat on his recliner. His eyes were open, but he wasn’t breathing, and he had turned white.

His wife called 911, and paramedics arrived quickly. But there was a period of about half an hour in which his heart wasn’t beating.

While the odds weren’t on Oglesbee’s side, effort was. The 911 operator, Amie Smith, instructed Jacqueline how to perform chest compressions, which she did for seven minutes. That proved to be critical.

"The 911 operator told her to get me on the floor and told her how many compressions per minute to give me," Oglesbee said. "The paramedic said that was the only reason I survived. If you go more than four minutes without oxygen, you can suffer brain damage."

With the operator giving instructions through the iPhone put on speaker, Jacqueline successfully did her part. But Jacqueline said she is surprised of how well it worked out.

Jacqueline said she had never given compressions before and had only seen it done on TV. She said when she gave compressions to her husband, she didn’t know if her hands were in the right place or if she pushed too hard. Jacqueline added that she still isn’t sure if she broke his sternum in the process.

"I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right," Jacqueline said. "But they told me if I hadn’t given him compressions, he would be gone. So I must have done it right."

Then the paramedics arrived and took over, and for 25 more minutes, they gave more compressions and tried shocking Oglesbee’s heart back into a rhythm. Finally, a heartbeat.

But the trouble wasn’t over. Once Oglesbee got to the hospital, he developed staph pneumonia.

"That almost killed me," Oglesbee said.

Oglesbee remained in a coma for eight days. When he woke up April 23, he learned about what he had missed. That included the passing of his wife’s mother and her funeral.

He had scars on his chest where paramedics shocked him multiple times to get his heart to go from a quiver to an actual beat.

"I was surprised they put out so much effort to bring me around," Oglesbee said.

For firefighters, it’s just part of the job. But it’s a part of the job some people don’t know about. Flower Mound’s firefighters are also EMTs. They all have life support training and cardiac training. Each fire truck is equipped with everything needed for resuscitation, minus a blood lab.

Also, unlike some fire departments, Flower Mound has ambulances as part of its department, which helps get paramedics to the scene quicker since they don't have to contact an outside party.

Firefighters say it’s just one link in the chain that plays a part in lifesaving efforts.

Another important link in this case was Jacqueline performing CPR and Smith instructing her how to do it.

"Without a doubt, the intervention made a difference," said Battalion Chief Kevin Trimble. "She was able to supply oxygen to the brain."

Trimble said it is important for everyone to know how to perform CPR, and anyone interested can learn about the Hands Only CPR classes by calling 972-874-6203.

"Any time you get to interact and see the benefit of the chain work out, it’s a huge reward," said Fire Chief Eric Greaser. "It doesn’t happen every day. We’re happy to be a part of it because sometimes you never know how it worked out."

In this case, it turned out well. The last time Oglesbee brought ice cream to the fire department, he had just completed a 4K fast walk.

"I should be dead," Oglesbee said. "They definitely saved my life."

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