HART, Mich. — It's been nearly two months since the day David Kaiser played an important role in saving a man's life outside the Hometown Pharmacy on S. State Street where he works as a pharmacy manager.
But as he leads me to the parking spot where it all happened, I can tell by his tone and his body language that the passage of that time has not made the memories of that day much easier to talk about.
"It took a real big emotional toll on me. Certainly, I was glad and I was happy for him. But, you know, I spent a couple hours thinking that I had failed somehow," David said.
It was Monday, October 24 at around 6:45 p.m. Hometown Pharmacy was about 15 minutes from closing for the night, when the mood in the store changed.
"A customer comes in, racing into the pharmacy, and says someone call 911. I directed one of my technicians to call 911 and I came out here," David remembers, looking at the parking spot.
"There's a van parked here and there's a gentleman laying on the ground. When I got out here, his face was completely gray and purple. He honestly looked like a corpse to me. I didn't have any hope that I was going to be able to do anything, but I went into action doing what we're trained to do."
David began performing CPR. He says over the course of about five minutes the patient drifted in and out of consciousness. That's when emergency crews arrived and took over, and the rush of adrenaline gave way to big time emotions for David.
"I left the pharmacy thinking that this man did not make it," he said.
"It was probably about a half hour after that that one of my technicians texted me and showed me that indeed this man was alive. He was at the hospital."
David hasn't had the chance to meet the man whose life he helped save. But not long after the incident, the man's wife came in to the pharmacy. David says she was overcome with emotion when she thanked him for what he had done.
And she wasn't the only one who had gotten wind of what happened.
"When we learned of what David did, we were like, oh, he's our hometown hero! We're very proud of him for what he did, taking care of the patient," said Dianne Malburg who serves as the company's vice president of pharmacy.
"That's the kind of people that we love to hire. He just emulates what Hometown is all about. It's taking care of the people in our community and our patients."
Quiet and humble are two words Dianne uses to describe David, and he's quick to defer credit for the save to first responders.
"I think that the real heroes were the people, you know, like the EMS who came in there and then took over," he said.
"My role was just to get him to that point until the people who do this for a living can come out, and certainly, I'm glad that I was there."
According to the American Heart Association, about 350,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest. Around 18.8% of cardiac arrests that don't happen inside of a hospital happen in public settings, and if CPR is performed immediately it can double or even triple the odds that the patient will survive.
This is actually the second time David has successfully performed CPR on someone during an emergency. He hopes he doesn't have to do it a third time, but if he does, he'll be ready.
"You may not think you ever have to use something like this, but when it comes to it, I think we all need to be prepared to jump into action," he said.
There are a variety of options when it comes to CPR training. David says people should find out if their employers offer courses. If they don't, you can find classes both online and in person for a fee. The American Red Cross has an online tool to find CPR classes near you.
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