Indiana man recounts surviving heart attack miles from home

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Jim England loves football. Ever since he graduated from Ohio State University in 1973, he and his buddies made a pact: they would head back to their alma mater every season at least once to see their team play. 

One evening in the fall of 2011, Jim and his friend Bob were exiting the stadium headed to a nearby bar to celebrate the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin. Suddenly, Jim lost consciousness and slumped over in his seat. 

“I just totally blacked out and my buddy who was driving looked over at me. Fortunately, I was riding shotgun and wasn’t driving. He said I was making all these weird noises and looked like I was struggling to breathe,” said England.

Jim was having what doctors call a widow-maker heart attack–the deadliest kind a person can have. 

Bob pulled to the side of the road and jumped out. When he opened the passenger side door, Jim rolled lifelessly onto the pavement.  

Bob flagged down a police officer. At the same time, a stranger ran to the scene and started administering CPR. The three men took turns working on Jim as the EMTs were enroute. 

Jim says if that stranger hadn’t walked by, he wouldn’t be alive today. 

“Getting [CPR] two minutes after the onset of this event is definitely what saved my life.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made learning CPR even more important as many of those who’ve had the virus are experiencing heart conditions post-recovery–including heart attacks. 

The American Heart Association is all too aware of this and has a new CPR method during the pandemic to help people avoid an infection, but still save a life. 

“Hands-Only CPR is just as effective as regular CPR,” American Heart Association board member, Rachel Hoffmeyer, told News 8. “You don’t have to do mouth-to-mouth [resuscitation] during the pandemic.”

Hoffmeyer says you can further protect yourself while doing Hands-Only CPR by wearing a mask and lightly covering the victim’s mouth with a cloth.

Jim survived that day to see his two daughters get married, spend more time with his wife, Cynthia, and meet his grandchildren. 

“If everything goes right, on October 30, 2021 will be the 10th anniversary and that will be a cool thing.”

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Facebook @DrMaryGillis.