A Fairfax County police officer was honored Tuesday for bringing a Great Falls man back to life after he suffered a massive heart attack.
Officer Nathan Keysor was parked in his police cruiser near Station 12 March 1 when the 911 call came in. It was the day of the ice storm. Worried the ambulance and fire truck might have some trouble, Keysor took off ahead of them.
But when he walked through the door of Jim and Susan Cassell's home, he didn't think there was much hope for the 64-year-old man.
"He looked like a dead body," said Keysor. "He didn't have a pulse, he wasn't breathing. I assumed he was dead."
Jim Cassell's wife Susan had already started CPR. She said the first alert came from the family dog, Sassy, who started barking for no apparent reason just before Cassell showed signs of the heart attack.
"Everybody was just there as I needed them," Susan Cassell said. "I was so exhausted from doing the CPR and I was literally saying a prayer for strength, and Officer Keysor walks in the door."
Keysor took over the chest compressions.
"I started the CPR, and just amazingly, he started breathing again," he said. "I kept it up and the fire department got there."
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue medics were next to jump into what they call the "chain of survival."
"From there it was to get the heart monitor on, take a quick look at the rhythm and see what we had," recalled Chief Medic Robin Lotz. "What we are looking for is a shockable rhythm. Mr. Cassell was in vvz-fib. We shocked him three times."
They got a heartbeat.
They deployed a new CPR machine, called Lucas II, that provides mechanized chest compressions. It was recently purchased for Station 12 by the volunteer firefighters who work out of the station.
Officer Keysor provided an escort as the ambulance rushed Jim Cassell to Reston Hospital.
He was put in a medically induced coma. Eight days later he awakened and had a kiss for his wife.
"It's truly a miracle. There's no other word for it," said Susan Cassell. "The ICU nurses have even called him a miracle man because he was dead, his heart stopped."
Tuesday she went to Great Falls Station 12 to personally thank all involved. Families of the officers and firefighters watched as Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers awarded Keysor the Lifesaving Award.
Keysor said another big moment came recently when he went to visit Jim Cassell in the hospital. Keysor has been called upon to do CPR before, but never with this outcome.
"It was very good. it's probably my greatest accomplishment," he said.
Jim Cassell is set to eave the hospital Tuesday to head to a rehabilitation facility.