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Man Thanks Firefighters Who Saved His Life After Heart Attack

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA)  -- Your first day of work is usually a little scary.

"Five hours into my shift, they said I just dropped. Just collapsed," says Mark Roach.

It was March 1, Roach's first day behind the deli counter at Sprouts in Rancho Cucamonga.

His heart stopped. He doesn't remember much of what happened next.

The American Heart Association says sudden cardiac arrest happens to 420,000 Americans outside of a hospital every year.

An event can be fatal in four minutes, and the estimated emergency response time is about nine minutes. Only 8 percent survive.

"They were just talking, and they heard the commotion," Mark told CBS2's Nicole Comstock.

Mark was one of the lucky ones -- "they" were two off-duty San Bernardino firefighters.

The two heroes turned out to be inside Sprouts when Mark collapses.

They ran behind the deli counter and sprung into action.

The firefighters are Capt. Brett Dickerson and Engineer Dustin Griffin.

They started CPR but needed more help. Turned out to be their lucky day, too.

"From what I understand, Sprouts received their on-site portable defibrillator that day. And they trained on it a few days before," Roach says.

Dickerson and Griffin used that defibrillator to shock Roach's heart and regain his pulse.

On Wednesday, Roach got to shake both their hands at a Rancho Cucamonga City Council meeting.

Both firefighters were honored for saving Roach's life.

"I was just happy they got it," Roach said.

So was his new bride. She stayed by his side in the hospital the entire time -- 21 days.

"She was like wake up!" Roach says with a smile. They married  May 19.

He is mindful of just how precious life is.

"It just goes to show that life can end at any time. You never know," Roach said.

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