ANDOVER — Dan Grecoe celebrated his 43rd birthday last week, and he credits three alert bystanders and a defibrillator with helping him reach the date.
Grecoe, an Andover resident who lives with his wife Lisa and three daughters, went into sudden cardiac arrest on the morning of Sept. 19 while exercising at the Andover/North Andover YMCA.
For about 10 minutes, retired Andover firefighter Richard Hartman and school nurse Rita Casper worked together to perform CPR on Grecoe while YMCA employee Maura Eisenhood used an automatic external defibrillator to help him survive while the paramedics were en route.
"Without Maura and Rita and Richard and this device, I wouldn't be here with my daughters to celebrate," Grecoe said, referring to the automatic external defibrillator.
Grecoe was working out at the gym with his friend Paul Davies early on the morning of Sept. 19. He had recently recovered from knee surgery — having his anterior cruciate ligament replaced following a skiing injury — and was given the OK to start running.
He started with the treadmill, running for about six or seven minutes, and said he felt totally winded.
"I chalked that up for not being able to run because of the knee," Grecoe said.
Grecoe and Davies then switched to the elliptical machines. After about five minutes on the machine, Grecoe started to feel faint.
"I said to (Davies), 'I'm feeling a little dizzy,' and that was it," Grecoe said. "The lights went out."
Eisenhood, assistant to the sports director at the YMCA and a North Andover resident, said she noticed Grecoe at the gym that morning because he had been using a machine normally taken by another gym regular.
Eisenhood had been wiping down machines when she noticed commotion in his direction. She said when she walked over that she noticed Grecoe was clenching his hands.