SALISBURY — Michael Beaton firmly believes he’s alive today thanks to the help of strangers who ran to his aid after a heart attack nearly took his life on July 9.
A Merrimac resident who has run his own landscaping business in Newburyport for the past 15 years, the 45-year-old Beaton was in his truck heading east on Route 110 when he started feeling poorly.
“I told my two guys who were with me that I wasn’t feeling well,” Beaton said. “Then I slumped over the steering wheel unconscious. They managed to pull the truck over safely and dragged me out and laid me by the side of the road on 110. It was by Harry’s Garage. They called 911.”
Beaton said just as his employees were about to attempt CPR, a woman drove up in her car.
“I was dead there on the side of the road,” Beaton said. “Then, this woman came running over — my guardian angel — and she said, ‘I’m a nurse, I’ll do CPR.’ And she did. She kept my heart pumping until the EMTs from Salisbury arrived. They all saved my life.”
No one knows the names of the nurse or others who stopped to help Beaton before Salisbury firefighters arrived, but according to Salisbury firefighter/EMT Dave Doyle, without them, the outcome could have been much different.
“We all would like to know who she was because if she hadn’t done CPR, it would have been more time without the lifesaving treatment of CPR,” Doyle said yesterday. “We tried to get her name but she said, ‘No, I’m fine, bye,’ and jumped in her car and left.”
According to the log, the fire department got the 911 call at 8:13 a.m. The call came from the police station, where 911 calls are initially received and forwarded. Doyle and fellow firefighter/EMT Matt Swenson arrived at the scene at 8:14 a.m. and took over.
“Michael was being assisted by two bystanders when we got there,” Doyle said. “He was in cardiac arrest. He wasn’t clinically dead, but he was pretty much gone.” The EMTs continued CPR and administered the defibrillator immediately.
“We shocked him once and didn’t get him back,” Doyle said. “We shocked him again and didn’t get him back. We shocked him a third time and his heart started and he was in normal sinus rhythm. By the time the ambulance arrived to transport him to the hospital, he was breathing on his own.”
Doctors discovered Beaton had a blockage that caused the problem, he said. They put in a stent, a small mesh tube, into the affected vessel, which keeps it open.
“This is hereditary in my family. My dad had the same thing happen, but I didn’t think it would happen to me because I go to the gym and don’t eat fried food,” Beaton said. “I feel much better now. I took a three-mile walk (on Monday), and as soon as I can, I’m going to get in better shape.”
On Monday, he also paid a visit to the Salisbury Fire Department.
“I stopped by; I had to say thank you,” Beaton said. “They saved my life.”
Doyle said he and Swenson were moved by Beaton’s visit.
“We don’t get a lot of people who stop by the station to thank us for helping them out during their hard times. So when someone does, it means a lot to us,” Doyle said. “It’s a little overwhelming. And after the difficulty this department experienced, it’s very much appreciated.”
Doyle was referring to the loss of Salisbury fire Lt. Timmy Oliveira, who died in an accident at the fire station in 2011. The anniversary of the tragedy is coming up at the end of this month and is a difficult time for the firefighters.
Beaton feels very fortunate to have had the unknown bystanders and Salisbury’s emergency responders on his side during his crisis. All were strangers before his medical crisis, but they’re all now an integral part of his life, whether he knows their names or not.
“I’d really like to know who that nurse was; she literally kept me alive until the EMTs arrived,” Beaton said. “And those guys from Salisbury, well, they’re just incredible. I was dead and they brought me back. What a bunch of heroes.”