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‘I’m just thankful he’s alive'” CPR saves man from heat-induced heart attack

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NORMAN, Okla. - Tom Forbus carried his CPR certification around for more than 20 years, but never had to use it.

Turns out the training never has an expiration date.

As a coworker staggered and fell in Friday's heat and humidity, Forbus took action that doctors say likely saved the man's life.

Read: What are the warning signs of heat stroke?

"He walked over about 6-8 feet from me and his eyes rolled back in his head and he just fell over," said Forbus, who was laying the floors of a new hotel built just south of the Norman HealthPlex. "I don't know what kicked in. I was kind of a little stunned. But by the same token, my heart went to this guy. I said, 'man, we gotta keep this guy going.'"

Another certified co-worker began chest compressions while Forbus started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"He turned purple four times," Forbus recalled Monday. "He totally stopped breathing and we just kept going. It seemed like a lifetime to be honest with you."

Within 15 minutes, an ambulance was on scene, rushing the man basically across the street to the hospital, where doctors and nurses had been alerted a man was coming in cardiac arrest.

"When he came in, he was severely dehydrated," said Dr. Paul Ayers, a cardiologist.

The heat and dehydration, caused a blood clot in his coronary artery, "a problem that essentially caused him to die right on the spot," Ayers said.

In surgery, doctors put a stent in his artery and placed the man in a cold, induced coma to limit brain swelling.

"I think he's very lucky," to have survived, Ayers said. "It's a testament to the quick actions of his co-worker. It did save his life."

Forbus said he's just thankful his coworker is alive.

They've visited several times in the hospital, despite never having met before the hot, humid day.

Stunned and humbled, Forbus said the incident was a "wake up call," and confirmation he's doing the right thing as he plans to begin classes this fall, returning to school to become an EMT.

"I just want to help people," he said. "I think that's more important nowadays."