If Tom Zinn hadn’t forgotten the sweet potatoes, Joe Dease might not be here today.
Zinn, a lieutenant with the Strongsville Fire Department, was off-duty and picking up a few items at Buehler’s in Medina when he heard store employees give a code over the store intercom about something going in the produce section.
“I thought there must have been a spill or something,” Zinn recalled.
But he also realized his wife had asked him to get sweet potatoes, so he headed over – only to find a small crowd gathered and a man lying on the floor.
Zinn jumped into action, administering CPR while store employees ran to get an Automated External Defibrillator. He briefly got a pulse, but had to shock the patient a second time and continue CPR before the man started breathing on his own and Medina paramedics arrived.
“By the time they were walking out with him, he was sitting up, talking,” Zinn said.
On July 1, the two had a reunion when Dease visited the fire station to personally thank Zinn for saving his life. Both Dease and his wife, Jackie, hugged Zinn.
“How you doing?” Zinn asked.
“Good – thanks to you,” Dease replied.
Dease, 68, doesn’t remember much about Nov. 13. He recalls getting a little dizzy as he shopped at Buehler’s.
“The next thing I remember, I was being wheeled out the door,” he said. He was then taken by helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic.
Rehab took several months – doctors implanted a defibrillator in Dease’s chest – and the Deases then went to Florida for a while.
But a day hasn’t gone by that Dease hasn’t thought about Zinn. While he was still in the hospital, he called Buehler’s to get the name of the man who’d saved him, and phoned Zinn to thank him.
But he wanted to thank him in person, too, so he called Fire Chief Jack Draves to arrange it.
“It’s hard to know how to thank someone for saving your life,” Dease told Zinn. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, and I hope everyone else appreciates what you do.”
Zinn said it was great to see Dease healthy and happy.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “We do CPR on a lot of people. If you don’t get to someone right away, it’s not always the same outcome.”
Dease, who has since taken CPR classes so he can help someone else if the need arises, took a quick tour of Fire Station No. 4 with Zinn.
“It’s good to see you up and around,” Zinn told him.
Dease smiled. “It’s good to be seen,” he said..