Great-grandfather thanks nurse, first responders who saved his life in Gilbert

Something Good is sponsored by Papa Murphy’s
A Queen Creek great-grandfather met up with the group of people who saved his life earlier this month. Something Good is sponsored by Papa Murphy's
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:14 PM MST
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GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Queen Creek grandfather had a scare with death and on Thursday, thanked those who kept him alive. Bob Durling had just finished a long-distance bicycle ride on Sunday, Aug. 6. He felt fine after putting his bike in the SUV and heading east on Queen Creek Road. As he was approaching Lindsay Road, that’s when things got bad. “I was in the left lane when, all of a sudden, my world just got dizzy. I never felt that dizzy in my life,” the 69-year-old said. “Thought this would pass, and then my heart stopped. I blacked out.”

Courtney Johnson was on her way home from an overnight shift at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center’s trauma intensive care unit. She saw that Durling had ended up hitting a curb, and a man was banging on the SUV. “I see Bob slouched against the window,” Johnson said. “And as soon as I saw his face, I was like, oh my gosh, there’s something major going on here.” Another man broke the window, and he and Johnson got Durling out of the SUV. “He had no pulse,” Johnson said.

She started CPR and told another person to go get help. Crews from the Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department then showed up, and Durling didn’t have a pulse, they got right to work. “Got the pads and established the airways,” said Gilbert Fire and Rescue Capt. Jose Garcia. They used a defibrillator on him, but his heart wasn’t beating, so they continued CPR. Firefighters did another heart rhythm check, shocked him again and gave him a drug to get a pulse back while they continued CPR.

Crews used the defibrillator for a third time, and this time, they got his pulse back. “That’s when his eyes started to open,” Garcia said. “He started looking around, and that’s not usual for a code call like that.” He was rushed to the hospital, and doctors found that his carotid artery was 99% blocked. Durling underwent surgery, where surgeons put in a cardiac stent and a defibrillator. Now, he’s back to getting back to his old ways. He walks in the morning and is riding his bicycle every other day, but for only about 3 miles.

On Thursday, Johnson, the crew with Fire and Rescue and Durling reunited for a special thank you. They all signed Durling’s shirt that he was wearing that fateful day, which had to be cut off. “It sends tingles up your spine to see Bob come in here. And we saw him a month ago on the worst day of his life, I’m guessing. And today, we get to see him again,” said Garcia. “It’s an absolute joy to see him walk through the door.” The group also took photos and promised to keep in touch. “It is truly overwhelming right now, OK, to try and hold everything back. I’m not the crying type of person, but it just, all these guys and Courtney and everybody came together and literally saved my life,” said Durling.

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