Gleason’s story began on the morning of Jan. 26, a Sunday, when he was nearing the end of an 8-to-10-mile run in preparation for the marathon. It was about 8:45 a.m. when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed face first into a snowbank on Salem Street, in front of Bradford Common.
Haverhill Deputy Fire Chief Brian Moriarty, who also works as a paramedic at Lawrence General Hospital, arranged Friday’s get-together and, along with Gleason, saw it as a way to bring the concept of the “chain of survival” to the public’s attention.
There are five links in this life-saving chain, the first being to notify emergency workers. That’s the role Bradford resident David Alartosky played when he was was walking by the common, saw Gleason lying in the snow and immediately called 911.
By sheer chance, Walsh was on her way to morning Mass at Sacred Hearts Church when she saw Gleason, made a U-turn with her pickup truck and ran to him. Police officer George Dekeon had arrived just seconds before. He happened to be on patrol near Sacred Hearts Church when notified by police dispatchers of the 911 call.
The chain of curvival now had its second link, with Walsh administering early CPR.
“He had no pulse and no breath,” Walsh said.
Police Officer Ronald Hilchey arrived and was able to identify Gleason before he was taken to the hospital.
Walsh told Gleason that fate placed her in a position to help.
“Someone up there was watching out for me,” Gleason said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
The third link in the chain was forged by Fire Department Lt. John Marchand and firefighter EMTs Mike Sullivan and Keith Grant. They took over from Walsh and Dekeon and used a defibrillator to shock Gleason’s heart back into a normal rhythm.