‘I Was Dead and They Brought Me Back': Off-Duty San Ramon Firefighters Save Man at Gym

Ron Johnson was walking on a treadmill at a Danville 24 Hour Fitness on January 30 when he suddenly blacked out, fell over and stopped breathing. The doctors said that without quick action, he would've died.

"Walking what I thought was pretty slow. I got off and I woke up in the emergency room," said Johnson, 76, a real estate agent who lives in Danville.

Lucky for him, San Ramon Valley Fire Deputy Chief Lon Phares was at the same gym and came running to administer CPR. Then another firefighter who was playing basketball at the same gym, Casey Rivers, found the gym’s emergency defibrillator and gave Johnson a brief shock.

"The doctors said I was dead and they brought me back," Johnson said. "How do you thank someone for saving your life?"

So on Thursday, he visited Phares and Rivers at their station to say thank you.

"Was the siren going? Well good. Red lights and a siren," he said as the firefighters showed him the ambulance that took him to the hospital.

Rivers was supposed to be on vacation, but he got in the rig with his colleagues just like a regular day at work.

"They were a little shocked to find me there," he said. "It was just like any other call. We went straight to work. I was in street clothes."

Phares was modest. He said their quick action stresses the importance of learning CPR.

"We happened to be in the right place at the right time. Any trained citizen with a CPR class could've done the exact same thing. Had we not been there, I’m pretty confident that somebody would've."

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