Every day more than 2,000 people have a heart attack. The majority of them do not survive.
That’s why a Clearwater man is now sharing his story.
Last November, right before Thanksgiving, paramedics gave Nicolas Smith a one percent chance to live.
“I remember feeling my heart start to race,” he said.
At 30 years old, an irregular heart beat triggered a heart attack. Smith was at home at the time.
“Everything started going black. I went down on one knee and covered my head and fell,” he said.
He remembers having chest pain, a textbook warning sign.
Now he’s meeting the first responders who saved his life.
The paramedics had no idea he survived.
“When they called, I said [that] the only cardiac arrest I worked, I believe the guy passed away. And they said, 'No he survived.' I was pretty taken back,” Lt. Matt Burmood said.
The key to his survival? CPR.
In total Smith had 27 minutes of CPR performed on him.
He credits the first six minutes to his fiancée, who found him lying on the floor.
“I said, 'Get up, get up, and he wasn't getting up, so I called 911. I had never done CPR. They told me I had to roll him over,” Ryen Houck said.
Doctors say every minute you delay CPR, survival goes down 10 percent.
And it’s easy to do – push hard and fast in the center of someone’s chest 100 times per minute. How fast? The experts say it times out to the beat of the song “Staying Alive."
Now that Smith is alive, he wants everyone to learn CPR.
“Even if you use it one time, even if you never do, it's a skill that's well worth having,” Smith said.
If you would like to learn CPR, the American Heart Association is offering free classes. By this time next year, they want to train 150,000 people in Tampa Bay.
To sign up for a class call 727-563-8006.