TULSA, Okla. — First responders put their lives on the line at work every day. Even when they’re off duty, they’re there helping the community.
That’s what Paula Dickson discovered when she recently suffered a medical emergency.
“Here she comes dragging up the rear as usual," Dickson said as she walked into a Tulsa fire station Tuesday afternoon.
Dickson is up and walking around, but this wasn’t the case just a few weeks ago.
“I don’t remember any of it," Dickson said.
77-year-old Dickson was with her best friend of more than 50 years, Mary Surber when she became unconscious. Surber was unable to find a phone to call 911 so she went knocking on neighbors' doors. She got lucky when she ran into off-duty Tulsa firefighter Ricco Edmundson.
“I just was thinking, ‘Oh, god,'" Surber said. "And when he told me he was a firefighter I went, ‘Oh, god! This is wonderful.'”
Edmundson’s first responder instincts immediately kicked in. He called 911 and started CPR on Dickson, who wasn’t breathing.
“Once they arrived, as soon as they walked in the door she took a breath and she had her pulse back," Edmundson said. "At that time they took over and I stepped back.”
In his 14 years as a firefighter, Edmundson said this is the first time he's experienced an emergency like this while off-duty.
Dickson spent five days in the hospital. Now that she's feeling better, she wanted to meet the man who saved her life and say thank you.
Dickson and Edmundson reunited and shared a hug on Tuesday. She even received a shirt from Tulsa Fire Chief Michael Baker.
She's thankful for her quick-thinking, lifelong best friend and the man who steps in to help even when he’s off the clock.
“I was grateful for everybody and I still am," Dickson said. "It’s a nice world out there, it’s a little soon to leave it.”
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