GRAND RAPIDS — First responders from Life EMS were reunited on Wednesday with people whose lives they saved after they went into cardiac arrest.
It was all part of the third annual "Heart Savers" luncheon but on by Life EMS. It honors the work of the paramedics who have saved countless lives already in West Michigan but also gives them the chance to reconnect with those they saved.
Four men, along with family members and friends, were in attendance and got the chance to tell their story. All of the say they would not be here today without the help of Life EMS.
One of those men is Kevin DeVries, who was on a run near Cascade Road when he went into cardiac arrest. After being found by someone just driving by, Life EMS arrived quickly and were able to get a heart beat back with help from local firefighters.
DeVries had been medically dead for nearly 15 minutes and came to in the Life EMS ambulance.
"The next thing I remember was the EMS jostling with lights blinking." said DeVries. "I heard some voices but I couldn't make out any faces. I apparently had a real difficult time focusing on anything."
DeVries mentioned while he was out and they were trying to get him back, he had an out-of-body experience involving a graveyard he had just passed and a man that was there who was dressed in all white.
"I flew back up into the cemetery and this time, that person that was all dressed in white was facing me. The light was so blinding but it wasn't hurtful. It felt like light that darkness had never touched. I also felt an incredible amount of peace and love. It was love that fear has never felt. It was a complete absence of fear."
The Life EMS honorees say moments like this are why they became paramedics.
"I think it means a lot." said Collin Chrenka. "This is a reminder of why we do it. One of the reasons we got into the field are these sorts of outcomes. It is great being able to see them and get thise sort of recognition."
This month is National Heart Month and it is important to have your heart checked regularly while working towards a healthy heart with daily exercise and healthy eating.