Teen gunshot survivor reunites with those who saved his life

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A 14-year-old gunshot wound survivor got the chance Wednesday to say thank you to the emergency personnel who helped save his life.

It was an emotional reunion, as Eric Mendez greeted Phoenix firefighters and personnel from Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Back on February 21, 2016, then-12-year-old Eric Mendez was accidentally shot in the chest.

[RELATED: PD: Boy shot in chest by uncle at Phoenix home]

Eric's wounds left him without a heartbeat, and he and not breathing by the time firefighters arrived. 

"He was not in good condition when we got there," says Brian Mingus, a retired Phoenix fire captain. "We decided to do all the treatment in the ambulance and get him to the trauma center as soon as possible."

Firefighters and paramedics worked to revive Eric, doing CPR in the ambulance.

Doctors and nurses at Phoenix Children's Hospital continued life-saving measures, despite knowing the odds were not in Eric's favor. 

"He came in as a Level 1 trauma, and he was in critical condition," says trauma surgeon Lisa McMahon. 

She says they were forced to do an emergency thoracotomy in the ER. "It's a rare kind of thing to do in the emergency room. Generally, we like to do that kind of operation in the operating room where things are much more controlled. But there are certain instances in which it's indicated and this was one of those."

But Eric survived his injuries thanks, in large part, to the skilled treatment of all who helped him survive.

"I feel like we were lucky that day," said McMahon." All the stars did kind of align."

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