WASHINGTON - A D.C. man who has worked closely with the city's fire department in recent years was reunited with firefighters and a doctor from MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital who saved his life.
Nishant Keerikatte is on his feet now exactly 28 days after collapsing during an early morning workout. His life was seemingly slipping away until a doctor, a rookie firefighter and a paramedic stepped in.
"I reached down to take his pulse and I didn't feel anything, and I had my stethoscope, took a listen to his heart and didn't hear anything and right away said we need to initiate CPR," said Dr. Abigail Ley.
She was on her way to work walking down 10th Street on August 21 when she saw noticed Keerikatte on the ground. His friend and workout partner Joshua Stein was with him.
They both did CPR before Engine 17 pulled up with EMS supervisor Ellen Kurland close behind.
"I grabbed the AED (Automated External Defibrillator), grabbed our EMS bag," said Cody Lockwood, a firefighter/EMT for D.C. Fire and EMS. "We all kind of worked together, so I took over compressions."
"We put the LUCAS on, which is an automatic compression machine, and it pushes harder on the chest than I've ever seen anyone do it manually," said Kurland.
It is a machine that keeps the heart pumping.
Keerikatte had just finished running some laps at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center and was about to do some pull ups when he suffered a massive heart attack. Within five minutes, he got the help that he needed. He was very fortunate that a man passing by offered up his cell phone to call 911.
"Seconds matter in this and nothing short of this happening in the ER, we wouldn't probably be here," said Stein.
Everything worked like it should have, but when Keerikatte got to the hospital, the prognosis was bleak.
"They told me at one point that he would never be the same person that we knew, and I said, 'What does that mean? Does that mean his jokes won't be as funny or does that mean he won't be able to speak?'" said Keerikatte's wife, Holly. "And they said, 'If he's ever able to speak again, I would be very surprised.'"
Although there was some short-term memory loss, Nishant Keerikatte is close to being back to his old self.
He is a lawyer who worked closely with former D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells on issues related to the fire department. In fact, when he collapsed, Keerikatte was wearing a DCFD t-shirt.
"I'm just so thankful for all of these men and women who participated in my rescue and I am just glad to have another chance at life," Keerikatte said. "I'm excited and I would urge anyone out there to get CPR training."