Heart attack victim meets stranger who saved his life - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Heart attack victim meets stranger who saved his life

Ron Simmons meets Dr. Kim Copeland, who saved his life with CPR. (Source: WAFF) Ron Simmons meets Dr. Kim Copeland, who saved his life with CPR. (Source: WAFF)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

66-year-old Ron Simmons has a lot to be grateful for. He collapsed in a church on Aug. 5. But a group of strangers there saved his life.

Simmons had a "total cardiac arrest" while playing music at a funeral at West Minister Presbyterian in Decatur. A physician named Kim Copeland was in the audience and knew something was wrong. Copeland said he "checked and sure enough, no pulse."

Copeland said CPR was immediately started. He said it was a team effort with help from some other physicians and a physician's assistant who were in the audience.

Simmons was taken to Decatur General then transported to the cardiac unit at Huntsville Hospital. He went to Health South for rehabilitation on Sept. 5.

Copeland said despite what you see in movies, CPR doesn't always work. But in this case "It made a difference." He recommends taking a CPR class.

"It may be for one of your family members that you need it," he said.

Simmons never met Copeland until Ellis Chenault hatched a well-crafted, secret plan to introduce the two at a recent Rotary Club meeting.

"You can't imagine how anxious I am to meet him and to have a chance to say thanks," said Simmons.

As the two men met, they shook hands, hugged and talked.

"It's almost more than I can talk about because I am so incredibly grateful to him for giving me so many second chances." Simmons said.

Simmons said he was left with a slow speech pattern but expects that will change.  He said his cardiologist said he should be totally back to normal in six months to a year.

And for the folks who worked on Simmons, there was never a question of giving up.

"We knew we could continue our efforts until we got a heart tracing where they could start administering some medicines. But no we never considered stopping," Copeland said.

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