San Jose Firefighter Suffers Heart Attacks, Coma, Heading Back to Work

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    NEWSLETTERS

    His heart stopped three times and he was placed in a medically induced coma after battling a church fire last August. But now, veteran San Jose firefighter Frank Ryan has recovered and is planning to head back to work on Monday.In an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area on Friday, Ryan recalled a bit of the fire that nearly took his life. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Saturday, Mar 30, 2013)

    His heart stopped three times and he was placed in a medically induced coma after battling a church fire last August.

    But now, veteran San Jose firefighter Frank Ryan has recovered and is planning to head back to work on Monday.

    SJ Firefighter in Stable Condition

    [BAY] SJ Firefighter in Stable Condition
    Fire crews rushed to Saint Patrick Cathedral near downtown San Jose Thursday morning after a fire was reported at the church. (Published Thursday, Aug 30, 2012)

    In an exclusive interview with NBC Bay Area on Friday, Ryan recalled a bit of the fire that nearly took his life.

    "I remember a lot of smoke a lot of heat," Ryan said. "Went outside, felt more than exhausted felt extra nauseous  Something I never felt before."

    San Jose's St. Patrick's Cathedral Catches Fire

    [BAY] San Jose's St. Patrick's Cathedral Catches Fire
    Fire crews rushed to Saint Patrick Cathedral near downtown San Jose Thursday morning to put out a fire that appeared to have started inside the sanctuary. Damian Trujillo reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 30, 2012)

    He said he thought he could walk it off found out quickly he couldn't. He also remembers going to get up into the truck to lay down, but he doesn't remember anything after that.

    "From what I understand my heart stopped at least three to four times," Ryan said.  "Two at the scene and two at the hospital."

    The 15-year San Jose firefighting veteran was also placed into a medically induced coma to allow him to rest following the Aug. 30 three-alarm blaze that ripped through Saint Patrick Cathedral near downtown San Jose.

    Ryan was given immediate medical attention by his fellow firefighters. They said he had no pulse and was not breathing for a time, but his "brothers" brought him back to life before rushing him to the hospital.

    WATCH: SJ Firefighter Who Fought Church Fire, A Hero

    Capt. Brian Endicott was one of those "brothers." He helped save his friend's life.

    "You are trained to do this," Endicott told NBC Bay Area at the time. "But you never expect to save the life of a friend."

    Endicott described Ryan as someone you'd definitely want to fight fires with. "He was the first one in, and the last one out," Endicott said.

    The cardiac doctor who treated Ryan said his fellow firefighters definitely saved his life. He added that Ryan came to work with "an angel on his shoulder."

    Witnesses said the church fire caused glass from the cathedral windows to break and pop away crashing to the ground below. Smoke from the fire could be seen throughout the downtown area of San Jose.

    Ryan now realizes how lucky he was to have survived the fire.

    "If this had happen somewhere else," he said, "the outcome may have been different."

      

    NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo contributed to this report.