WASHINGTON - There was a joyful reunion between a man who runs the company that makes French's Mustard and the D.C. firefighters who saved his life earlier this year.
Inside Engine Company 3 on New Jersey Avenue in Northwest D.C., Elliot Penner, his son Brayden and his wife Karen meet the firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who saved the 57-year-old New Jersey man's life on April 15. The previously heart-healthy Penner went into full cardiac arrest shortly after he and Brayden arrived at Union Station for a Washington Capitals hockey game.
The firefighters had been dispatched to Union Station to check on somebody else with a medical issue when Brayden ran outside to get help for his father who at first just wasn't feeling well.
"If it wasn't for the luck of me walking into an ambulance manned by these folks behind me, I wouldn't probably be here today," said Elliot.
"We saw EKG changes, he went unresponsive, went into cardiac arrest, shocked him, brought him back," said D.C. firefighter/paramedic Nick Ragucci. "That same thing happened six or seven times on the way to the hospital."
"I guess lucky in one aspect is we never ended up finding the person we originally were there to see, so obviously when somebody comes up, we are going to take care of them," said firefighter/EMT Christian Mueller.
"I have got to say my gratitude goes out to them," Elliot said. "They do an outstanding job, and in my case, an unbelievable job, and I will forever be indebted to them."
D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean and Penner presented each of the first responders with what is called the Cardiac Arrest Save Coins.
"We are here today to congratulate the family, Mr. Penner here, and we are here to congratulate our firefighters for the great job they did," the fire chief said.
"We were in the right place at the right time," said Ragucci. "The stars aligned for everything to work out."
Elliot Penner said there is a lesson to be learned from this - if you are not feeling well or something just doesn't feel right, don't ignore the warning signs.