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Heroes honored for saving John Stroh’s life in Woodbridge

When John Stroh’s heart stopped, luck and friends saved him

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Posted: Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:00 am

It was fate that three friends were there when John Stroh collapsed on the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club’s ninth hole. It was luck that the country club happened to be holding CPR training at the same time his heart decided to stop.

It was heroic that his golfing buddy, a man with no CPR training, somehow performed compressions in textbook, life-saving rhythm.

And miraculously, Stroh awoke in bed hours later and heard his wife’s voice.

“John, you’re in the hospital,” Lynn said. “You’ve had a heart attack.”

Nearly all the people responsible for saving Stroh’s life two weeks ago — friends, strangers, paramedics, and Woodbridge firefighters — came together again at Woodbridge Golf and Country Club to be honored for their courageous work by American Medical Response.

On Friday, Stroh, 59, finally had a chance to say thanks. In the front of the room, he spoke about the incident, while his wife of 39 years watched through a stream of tears.

“It took a lot of courage and wherewithal to do the things people had to do to take care of me, and I appreciate it very much,” he said.

Stroh’s three friends, Jim Sturman, Jon Blegen and Cory Semer, felt the ground tremble around 1 p.m. that early summer day two weeks ago. They looked and saw Stroh lying limp on the fairway grass.

Instantly, they knew their friend had a heart attack. He was struggling to breathe. And Stroh’s life was now in their hands.

“He was out, motionless, grunting,” Sturman said.

Within seconds all three men sprung into action.

Semer grabbed his phone and called 911.

Sturman, 58, rushed over and dropped to his knees. He looked into Stroh’s eyes, open but empty, and performed CPR.

He’d never been trained, never done it before, but instinctively knew what to do.

While Sturman performed compressions, Blegen bolted toward the clubhouse, yelling for help. Inside, a CPR class was being taught by instructor Dan Snyder, who was well prepared for life-saving situations.

Snyder grabbed the club’s defibrillator machine and took off toward the ninth hole trying to not lose a second.

Stroh’s friends, Snyder and a small group of concerned onlookers stood by his side, trying to keep him stable.

“It seemed like it was forever,” Blegen said. “But Dan set up the machine and was the ultimate professional.”

With paddles to his chest, Stroh lay motionless, his fate still left to chance.

Woodbridge firefighters arrived, continued applying compressions, and checked Stroh’s pulse.

Sturman and Blegen learned later that day at Lodi Memorial Hospital that their friend had survived. Despite the odds, he’d be fine.

“Once all the pieces of the puzzle come together, you realize you’d better take advantage of having a second chance,” Stroh said.

Doctors released Stroh from the hospital three days later. And on Friday, he could finally thank all those responsible for saving his life.

“I’m just recognizing the importance of friendships and relationships and realizing those kind of things are rare,” he said.

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