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FDNY Veteran Saved From Cardiac Arrest By Defibrillator He Lobbied For Months Earlier

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Well all know that firefighters are trained to save lives -- sometimes it's each others', but sometimes it can be their own.

A longtime member of the FDNY may have been saved simply by asking that his building be equipped with a defibrillator.

For 36 years, Bill Staudt made a career of stepping into harm's way.

"I'm a firefighter, proud to be a firefighter," he told CBS2.

Never in a million years did he imagine it would be him who had to be saved on the job. That day came on a Thursday last September at an FDNY research and development building in Queens.

"I went back to my desk to finish a report, and as I finished I felt a burning sensation in the center of my chest," he said. "Next thing I know it's lights and sirens, and I'm in the back of this ambulance and I'm being taken to the hospital."

With no warning signs, the seemingly healthy 63-year-old had gone into cardiac arrest.

"He's a subset of patients who have cardiac arrest without known cause," Dr. JoonHyuk Kim from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens said. "When a person has cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting, the survival rate is very low."

In those critical moments that often divide life and death, fellow first responders used the newly equipped automated external defibrillator to help regulate Bill's heart beat.

Doctors say it was the AED on-site that likely saved his life. He pushed to get the device installed in the facility only months earlier.

"I had put in a request to make sure we had one just in case," Bill said.

Since then, his doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens have implanted a defibrillator that will monitor his heart 24 hours a day. They say his story should serve as a lesson.

"In a perfect world, we would have AEDs in as many places as possible," Dr. Kim said.

Bill just feels blessed to be with the people he loves, and hopes everyone who helped him also feels fulfilled.

"There's no greater reward than saving another person's life," he said.

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