On Sept. 18, as 71-year-old George Allison was in the back seat of his son Craig Allison’s car driving on Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo, Calif., he suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
George Allison (right) the Survivor
“We had just finished some conversation and there was some quiet time. Within about 30 seconds my son turned around,” said Barbara, who was riding in the front seat.
From the look on Craig’s face, she said, she knew something terrible was happening.
Her husband of nearly 50 years wasn’t breathing.
Craig pulled the car to the shoulder and yanked his father’s body from the back seat and tried to administer the Heimlich maneuver, thinking his father had choked on a peanut.
“My daughter-in-law got out and she was screaming for help. Her cell phone wouldn’t work,” said Barbara. “Craig pulled him out of the car and laid him on the ground, and the people showed up.”
Those people were strangers Daniel Lapidus, a San Luis Obispo dentist who had recently finished his active duty with the Air Force, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, and Marisela Campos, a public health employee working toward a degree in nursing.
“He wasn’t breathing, and he didn’t have a pulse,” Lapidus told the Tribune. “I knew we had to give him CPR.”
Lapidus started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and Campos began chest compressions.
Barbara Allison said the two strangers worked for eight minutes to try to get her husband to breathe again.
A California Highway Patrol trooper arrived on scene and hit George with a defibrillator, which sends an electric shock to the heart.
George was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to implant a defibrillator in his chest.
By Monday, he and his wife were home.
“The most memorable part of this is the people and how they reacted — the lady, the dentist and the highway patrolman — the things they did. They didn’t hesitate. They didn’t ask,” he said, his voice choked with emotion. “All of those things needed to come together just right, and they did.”
“Eight minutes of CPR is a very long time and almost never happens,” said Barbara. “There are very few who could have lived under these circumstances.”
“They were my guardian angels,” said George.