Fire chief's co-workers save his life - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Fire chief's co-workers save his life

By Laura Ann Sills - email

MANCHESTER, GA (WTVM) - Firefighters in Manchester, GA jumped in the truck to respond to a call three weeks ago. 

The address sounded very familiar, and as they approached the house, they knew their Assistant Chief was in trouble.

Sgt. Jerry Everett said, "We came in and he was blue."

The firefighters and EMTs said being from a small town where everyone knows everyone makes all calls personal.  But, this one was closer to home than ever before. 

"Knowing it is one of your own, that is down, that is facing death in the face, makes it a whole lot more emotional. It was the closest call I think I have ever run," explained EMT/Firefighter Ben Williams.

After giving him four shocks, Chief Fred Schmalz started to breathe on his own.  He was air lifted to St. Francis Hospital. 

Although he is not allowed to work, he cannot stay away from the station. News Leader Nine caught up with him hanging out at the fire station with the people that saved his life.  He said, "I just do not know if I will ever be able to thank them enough."

Leigh Erenheim, one of the first Paramedics on the scene, said this situation is very rare, "He is that 1% that comes all the way back from it."

Manchester responds to less than 10 cardiac arrest calls a year.  In his 25 years of service, this is the first time Schmalz has seen someone fully recover and walk out of the hospital. 

"We try to do our best to sustain life until the EMS get on scene and it works out pretty good sometimes.  I'll tell you what… I am a firm believer in it right now."

Schmalz has his first check-up appointment Tuesday morning.

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