Robert Lauzon was approaching the counter at Family Video when he suddenly fell to the ground.
“I blacked out and don’t remember anything else,” says the 73-year-old grandfather. “But if the girls in the store hadn’t helped me, I would have died.
“I’m very, very grateful they saved my life.”
Christina Bruner, 22, was working that evening and says she’ll never forget the loud bang she heard when Robert hit the ground.
“We didn’t know what had happened. He was just down,” she said. “He wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t moving. It was terrifying.”
She grabbed the oxygen that Robert always has with him and put it to his face. Co-worker Kayla Scott, 24, immediately called 911.
Customer Fernanda DeCarolis, 47, rushed from the back of the store and began CPR compressions.
Fernanda recognized Robert from her own workplace at Value Village where he’s a regular.
“I am CPR certified and have been for many years,” she explained. “It’s one of the best skills to have.
Robert had stopped breathing entirely.
“I knew it was bad and I knew he’d had heart attacks before,” she said. “I just did what anyone would do in that situation. I also had 911 on the line to ensure I was doing everything right.
“They were amazing.”
Fernanda put Robert in the recovery position but he was turning blue. “So I started compressions right away and his colour started returning.
“It seemed like forever but I don’t think it was. I just kept talking to him and told him to stay with us.”
Paramedics arrived in minutes and shocked Robert with a defibrillator three times, Christina said.
Finally, he regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital.
Fernanda, who didn’t know Robert’s last name, spent the next week wondering if he’d survived.
“I had no idea how it had ended. That was the worst,” she said. Later, she returned to the video store on London Road and found out he was in London hospital. The staff at Family Video and Fernanda decided to send a get-well card and a stuffed horse, since horses are a favourite collectable for Robert and his wife, Barbara.
“He’s in all the time getting movies about horses,” said Christina. “We know him really well. He’s so funny and so full of life for someone his age.
“He’s had so many health problems before. We’re just really glad he’s still alive.”
Robert, who required a stent and spent 12 days in ICU, is recovering now at home. He marvels at his good luck.
“I was in a house fire in 1985, I’ve survived a car crash and have had several heart attacks,” he said.
“And I’m still here. Those girls were in the right place at the right time. Someone must have a reason for wanting me to be here still.
“It’s like I have nine lives.”