Three Los Angeles firefighters were honored this week for saving the life of a man in full cardiac arrest at a car wash.
Issac Diaz was driving to work when something didn’t feel right.
"Just how you see on TV," he said. "You start to feel pain your left arm, trouble breathing, sweaty and all that."
Knowing he was in trouble, Diaz pulled into a South LA car wash, opened his car door and asked the first person he saw to call 911.
Local news from across Southern California
Fortunately, the person he asked for help had just finished a CPR class.
"He jumped right in and started doing chest compressions," Diaz said.
LA firefighters said that person’s quick action bought them time until they arrived.
"Every minute that your heart is not beating diminishes the probability that you’re going to survive," said Kenneth Cordaro of the LA Fire Department.
"We reconfirmed there were no pulses, started doing compressions, CPR, breathing for him with our bag valve mask," said Garrett Wasserman of the LAFD.
"They shocked me back to life and injected all kinds of medication," Diaz said. “They kept pumping on my chest."
Diaz spent five days in a coma. He had two stints, a defibrillator and a pacemaker implanted in his chest. But he is alive.
"It’s rare to get a second shot at life, and I actually got one," he said.
His mission now is to pay it forward, making a surprise visit to the award ceremony of the firefighters who, with the help of the good Samaritan, saved his life. The actions of Cordaro, Wasserman and LAFD firefighter Richard Othon were recognized at the event.
“99 percent of the time we drop somebody off at the hospital and that’s the last we hear of them,” Cordaro said.
“It’s not something we get to see very often, that we are able to see someone we saved,” Wasserman said.
“Thank you,” Diaz said. “Thank you for doing an amazing job and keep doing it every day.”