'I'm here because of you, so I appreciate it very much'

'I'm here because of you, so I appreciate it very much' »Play Video
Isaiah Thompkins (left) and his daughter meet with Duane Richards (right) and his family on Monday. Thompkins saw Richards suffering from a heart attack last month and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. (KATU photo)

TUALATIN, Ore. – Isaiah Thompkins said he knew what he had to do.

“When they were pulling him out of the car I knew that he’d had a heart attack and then I just started CPR,” he said.

Thompkins was in Woodburn on Nov. 20 when he saw a car go out of control. The driver, Duane Richards, had a heart attack at the wheel.

Richards’ daughter was also in the car, and managed to bring it to a stop without crashing.

"We stopped in the middle of the intersection or in the middle of the road and people just started coming," said Sierra Richards.

Thompkins said he couldn’t just sit there. He jumped into action and began performing chest compressions.

“That’s all that kept going through my brain,” said Thompkins. “I’m gonna keep him going until they get here. Until the real professionals can get here and do their jobs.”

Emergency crews arrived a few minutes later.

On Monday, those same paramedics met with Thompkins and Richards, and agreed that those first few minutes likely saved Richards’ life.

“It’s hard to put ‘thank you’ into words,” Richards said. “I know it’s your job and you deal with this, but from an individual standpoint. You know, other people may not be able to thank you like I can. I’m here because of you, so, I appreciate it very much.”

Richards spent over a week in the hospital. He now has a pacemaker.

The doctors and nurses who took care of Richards were also on hand Monday.

Paramedics said if you see someone who looks like they’re having a heart attack, using chest compressions until emergency responders arrive could help save their life.

“That first few minutes either makes or breaks the situation,” said Jon Koenig with the Woodburn Fire District. “Many times in our job, we go through this same scenario with a very different outcome.”

Thompkins said he learned CPR so he could help his kids if they were ever in an emergency. He said knowing Richards is OK brought tears to his eyes.

“It was just the greatest feeling,” Thompkins said.