On December 8, 2017, while working on a fence with his son and grandson, 71-year-old Robert Leonard suffered a heart attack and collapsed to the ground.
"I don't remember anything from that day," says Leonard, but his son, Rob Jr., tearfully recalls when his father stopped breathing. "I started doing compressions and my mom did the breathing. We could hear the sirens coming, but it seemed like an eternity."
Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue personnel continued with CPR and shocked Leonard three times, causing a return of circulation while en route to Broward Health Medical Center.
"I remember waking up in the hospital and my chest was hurting," says Leonard, "but I couldn't understand why."
Consulting cardiologist Ahmed Osman, M.D., says Leonard had "serious rhythm abnormality that can come after having a heart attack in the past, and this is what causes sudden death. If you're not in a situation where you can have immediate CPR initiated and advanced cardiac life support as soon as possible then the outcome is very bad."
Fortunately in Leonard's case, Osman says, "he was blessed to be resuscitated immediately and stabilized at Broward Health Medical Center."
A few days later Leonard would undergo surgery for the placement of an automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD). On December 12, just five days after the heart attack, Leonard was discharged from the hospital.
Over the last year, Leonard has had a few medical issues, but overall is doing remarkably well. He is extremely grateful to his son, the Fort Lauderdale firefighters and paramedics, and medical staff at Broward Health Medical Center for saving his life and helping him rehabilitate.
"I can do things now," says Leonard, "I wasn't able to do before!"