NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- June 20 was a dark day for 54-year-old truck driver Bernie Walter and his family.
While at work, Walter suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed. His co-workers stepped in quickly and started administering CPR as paramedics made their way to Walter.
“Guys who work in the yard and guys who drive with me, they all had a part in this,” said Walter.
Once under the care of EMS, he was brought to the hospital and stabilized.
All of the public servants and Walter’s coworkers were awarded with certificates for their actions to save Walter.
Walter, his mother Delores and his daughter Amber, met the 911 operators, paramedics and firefighters who helped save his life on Wednesday in North Charleston.
“Seeing all these people who were involved is a lot, said Walter “It’s a little overwhelming actually. But it’s something that needs to be said. I should’ve died on the way, but I didn’t. There’s a lot of people to thank for that.”
Walter’s family is thankful for those who are now are not strangers anymore.
“My dad is probably the most important man in my life right now. Losing him was a really hard reality to try come to terms with. I didn’t really think I would be able to come to terms with that if it happened. It was looking like it was going there,” said Amber Walter. “It’s a rough experience We’re a family of faith as well. We knew he’d be fine. He’s a fighter.”
“I’m grateful for everybody who was around him,” said Delores Walter. “If it hadn’t been for them my son wouldn’t be around today. Every day makes me happy. He’s getting stronger everyday.”
Charleston County EMS leaders say that the steps taken by Walter’s coworkers saved his life and the incident highlights the crucial importance of knowing how to perform CPR with your hands only.
“A number of years ago the recommendation for CPR became hands only CPR. People were less likely to intervene when they would have to do mouth to mouth resuscitation,” said Carl Fehr, a Division Chief with Charleston County EMS. “We want to make sure that people did intervene more. We are only doing those compressions. We are not worried about breathing.”
Fehr says that when paramedics arrive they will start administering oxygen to the patient after hands only CPR has been administered by others.
After coming home from a heart transplant, Walter goes to cardiac rehab three days a week and is slowly getting back on his feet
He wants to renew his CPR license to make sure that he is able to save a life if he needs to.
“It makes you wake up and say ‘Hey, the world is bigger than you,'” said Walter. “When you’re that close to not coming around again it makes you look at things a little differently.”