MIDDLETON (CBS) – A fire chief involved in countless rescues needed help himself on Monday.
Chief Frank Twiss of the Middleton Fire department suffered a heart attack in the middle of a training session and said if it weren’t for his guys, he wouldn’t be alive today.
“It’s definitely different when it’s one of your own,” said Douglas LeColst, Lt. EMS Coordinator.
Eleven Middleton firefighters were in their dispatch room, about five minutes into their phone training session when the chief’s heart attack struck.
“It appeared as though he was seizing in his chair. We called out his name, ‘Chief you okay? Chief, chief, chief!’ His heart stopped, he was in cardiac arrest,” said LeColst.
They realized their boss and for some, a friend of nearly four decades, had a heart attack. Without a pulse, they rushed to bring him back to life.
Another firefighter added, “everyone sort of just stepped in, you know, the things we’ve always been taught to do.”
The firefighters acted quickly, and prepared their chief to be taken to the hospital.
“Start an IV, gave medication, stuff like that. Then packaged him up and began to bring him to the ambulance,” said LeColst.
Kessel reflected on the emotional difficulty of the situation and said, “It’s always hard to do this kind of work but doing it on someone you know and love is very difficult.”
The irony, they say, is the chief was originally in his office alone until they called him over to join them.
“The class lasted a half hour and we would’ve finished the class and then we would’ve found him and unfortunately it would’ve been too late,” said LeColst.
Kessel added, “Afterwards, it hit home you know, it was hard.”
On Tuesday, just a day later, Chief Frank Twiss is sitting up, talking, and grateful to be alive.
“They performed their job flawlessly. It was just amazing that it all came together the way it did,” said Twiss.
Kessel called it “very gratifying” to talk to Twiss after the incident.
“I look back on along career and realize the countless calls that we do as a team, as a department to help save people, rescue people, to help the sick and injured. It’s such a different feeling when its yourself,” said Twiss.
Twiss stressed the importance of using CPR and defibrillators.
He was scheduled to retire from the Middleton fire department on Thursday.