EDMOND — Some men might dread the pressure of Valentine's Day, but for Jeff Buchanan it's like a second birthday.
Three years ago, Buchanan, 42, was at home with his wife, Erica, celebrating a quiet Valentine's Day with their three daughters. Then he suffered a sudden heart attack. Buchanan had been diagnosed at age 25 with cardiomyopathy. The condition is the result of a weakened heart muscle and it was being treated with medication.
“I always knew that one of the side effects was a possible sudden cardiac arrest,” Jeff Buchanan said. “I had no symptoms so I lived a normal life. I did what everyone else did. I worked out. I go to the gym. I was at a boot camp that morning.”
Buchanan visited firefighters at Edmond Station No. 1 on Friday to thank them for saving his life.
Buchanan was in good hands. According to statistics released this month by Oklahoma Emergency Services, the cardiac arrest survival rate in the Oklahoma City metro is 45.2 percent. Only the Seattle area has a higher reported survival rate. For the firefighters who helped save Buchanan's life, seeing him in person Friday was a rewarding moment.
“I remember the call going out and we heard it was a 39-year-old male,” Edmond firefighter Chad George said. “I was 39 at the time so that kind of hit home.”
George said their success in saving Buchanan's life was a result of training.
“We've got a lot of smart guys here. We love what we do and we love the citizens of Edmond and we do our best for each and every one of them.”
The experience was terrifying for Erica Buchanan.
“I think about what they did and how long they worked on him,” Erica Buchanan said. “It was over and above what normal is. I think about the tenacity and bravery. If any one of them had said it's not worth it or it's been too long, it could have been very different.”