John Mazur, a Schenectady native, says he is alive today because first responders performed CPR on him when he went into cardiac arrest while pumping gas on Altamont Avenue in Rotterdam five years ago.
On Tuesday, he was at the state Capitol in Albany with the American Heart Association, calling on the state Legislature to pass a bill that would ensure high school graduates have CPR training.
“CPR saved my life in October of 2009,” Mazur said. “I was in Rotterdam pumping gas and had a cardiac arrest. At that time, the car next to me called 911, and Rotterdam EMS was right there on Altamont Avenue and came and started CPR on me.”
Mazur said they performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator on him for about 40 minutes, keeping him alive while he was transported to Ellis Hospital.
“It allowed me to stay alive until they got me to the hospital, where they performed therapeutic hypothermia for the first time at Ellis Hospital,” he said. “They put me in a coma, and once I came out after a week, they put a couple of stents in me and then I returned back to real life.”
Mazur, who lives in Guilderland, is a sales representative for Four Star Salon Services on Wolf Road in Albany.
“I have been doing that for the last five years since my cardiac arrest and life is good,” he said.
The CPR in Schools bill would require high school students receive CPR training before they graduate. Mazur said the push to train students would save lives, since more people would be able to perform CPR.
According to the American Heart Association, 424,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest every year, and only 10.4 percent survive. Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, and State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, are sponsors of the legislation, with several Capital Region lawmakers, including Assembly members Phil Steck, D-Colonie, and Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and state Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, as co-sponsors.
“To me this is a no-brainer,” Grisanti said Tuesday morning. “There is no opposition of this legislation. It should be passed.”
About 100 people attended the event, with volunteers wearing red shirts with hearts on them. The volunteers performed a CPR demonstration while the song “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees played from speakers in the well of the Legislative Office Building.
Dr. Sulagna Mookherjee, a cardiologist at Albany Medical Center, was the emcee for the event. She said if the bill were passed, New York would be the 17th state requiring CPR in schools.
“This is in our power. We can do something here,” she said. “This is not chance; this is a choice. We can save lives here.”
Several people whose lives were saved by CPR spoke at the even, while Suzy McCarthy of Evans, in Erie County, spoke about losing her 5-year-old daughter to cardiac arrest.
“It’s good to be alive,” Mazur said. “I hope this bill gets passed so more people can say the same.”