Bystander CPR Helps Save Calif. Man From Arrest

Bystander CPR Helps Save Calif. Man From Arrest

News Oct 24, 2012

Oct. 24--BENICIA -- If there were ever a good time for a massive heart attack, Richard DeGraffenreid's garage sale may have been it.

On Aug. 11, DeGraffenreid's decisive actions and CPR skills helped save the life of 75-year-old Albert Carrillo, a Newark resident visiting for Peddlers Fair weekend.

"I guess the moral of the story is don't have garage sales," 59-year-old DeGraffenreid said.

On Monday morning, the Benicia Fire Department recognized DeGraffenreid for his actions during a ceremony at Station 11. Also there was Carrillo, who for the first time met the man who played an integral role in saving his life.

The men hugged, shook hands and recounted the events of that day.

The incident occurred about 1:30 p.m. at 464 East H St.

"I was helping him load a mirror into his car," DeGraffenreid said. It was part of a desk set Carrillo had bought.

Carrillo didn't make it back to the front of the car. He collapsed in DeGraffenreid's driveway, with barely a pulse.

"He went and phoned 911 and came back and tried to get his pulse, and said 'There is no pulse," Carrillo's wife, Carol, said. "I said, 'I think he's breathing,' so then he started CPR."

Although he's had no formal training in the life-saving technique, DeGraffenreid said he learned it on his own just in case. He added his son Miles, a San Francisco firefighter, had recently told him to sing the Bee Gees song "Staying Alive" to make the rhythm of the chest compressions more effective.

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When the opportunity to make a difference arrived, DeGraffenreid didn't flinch.

"I understand people's hesitation to get involved when people have heart attacks ... and things are going on that aren't real pleasant," DeGraffenreid said. "You just have to buck up and go for it."

DeGraffenreid's CPR on Carrillo lasted about four minutes, until paramedic-firefighters arrived. Medics then administered advanced life support care, and Carrillo's heart was shocked several times during the ambulance ride to Sutter Solano Medical Center.

"A week and a half later I woke up in a hospital," said Carrillo, who also received a cardiac catheterization at Doctors Hospital San Pablo. "Ninety-five percent of people don't make it out of this kind of massive heart attack."

During Monday's 15-minute ceremony, Benicia Fire Chief Steve Vucurevich presented DeGraffenreid with a plaque and a coin symbolizing integrity, honor, courage and compassion.

"I think you exemplify each of those characteristics, by your willingness to get involved and your preparation to have the skills to make a difference," Vucurevich said.

DeGraffenreid modestly accepted the praise and gave kudos to the city's emergency medical responders.

"We've lived here in Benicia for 29 years and raised our family here," said DeGraffenreid, a sales engineer at Platt Electric Supply. "We love the city of Benicia. We love the fire department. You guys have always come through. ... And I think one of the messages we want to get through is CPR is safe, simple and it saves lives."

Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at or (707) 553-6831. Follow him on Twitter @tburchyns.

Name: Richard DeGraffenreid

Age: 59

City: Benicia for 29 years

Occupation: Sales engineer

Quote: "I understand people's hesitation to (administer CPR) when people have heart attacks ... You just have to buck up and go for it."

Copyright 2012 - Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.

Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.
Tony Burchyns
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