Lodi resident Mike Polson was driving on Victor Road near Locust Tree and Kroll roads when he had a sudden heart attack and crashed into an almond tree. His truck caught fire, and his heart stopped beating. Polson, 65, is still with us, and paramedics are amazed.
Polson visited the Mokelumne Rural Fire District station on Brandt Road late Thursday afternoon to honor the paramedics, emergency medical technicians and firefighters who saved his life.
Polson still doesn't remember what happened before, during or after his heart attack, which took place at about 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 8.
"I have no recollection of that day at all," he said.
Julie Lindemann, a paramedic for American Medical Response, said it's common for people who suffer the trauma Polson did to lose their memory of the incident, though his memory may return a little at a time.
Polson is an electrician for the California Department of Transportation. He maintains traffic signals, message boards and other equipment.
Paramedics think that Polson suffered his heart attack before crashing into the tree. The Caltrans truck was engulfed in flames. California Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Hemenway pulled Polson out of the truck to keep him from being killed by the fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
American Medical Response paramedic Greg Morgan administered shock treatment and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, then put Polson into an induced coma. Fire engineers Anthony Moore and Korey Krueg joined Morgan in administering CPR, Krueg said.
"As this call came in, it didn't appear very good," Mokelumne Fire Capt. Jon Mettler said.
"We thought the worst," Morgan said. "It was like a surreal movie."
Other personnel credited at Thursday's ceremony with saving Polson were EMT Rochelle Luna of AMR, fire Capt. Rob Firman and engineer Mark Weber. Firman, Weber and Moore showed up despite being off-duty.
Morgan was off-duty for four days after the incident, and said he couldn't believe that, upon his return, Polson was not only alive but able to talk.
Lindemann said the ambulance company gets about 50 calls for cardiac arrest cases per month. About 15 are dead at the scene. The remaining 35 are transported to local hospitals, but they often don't survive the cardiac arrest once they're hospitalized, Lindemann said.
The soft-spoken Polson didn't consider himself to be that important in the scheme of things, but emergency services personnel strongly disagreed. They were thrilled to see him alive and well on Thursday.
"I'm not any kind of important person here," Polson said.
What was more important to Polson was returning to work. He was released from Lodi Memorial Hospital at the end of February or early March. Instead of returning to work, Polson was transferred to Arbor Convalescent Hospital in Lodi for rehabilitation.
"I tried to get back to work in April, but the doctors didn't release me," Polson said.
He finally returned to his Caltrans duties on June 6.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.