Highland Park heart attack survivor thanks his 5 heroes
Midtown athletic trainer Rick Rossi (right) pats Gary Greenberg on the shoulder during a hero ceremony Nov. 1 at the Bannockburn club. Rossi and other club members saved Greenberg's life Sept. 27. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 9, 2012 12:22PM
BANNOCKBURN — Gary Greenberg essentially died on the floor of his health club early in the morning Sept. 27.
The 58-year-old Highland Park resident stopped breathing and he had no pulse.
However, through the fast-acting efforts of both the athletic trainer and four fellow members of Bannockburn’s Midtown Athletic Club, Greenberg was revived and fully conscious six minutes after the 911 call was made.
“Their calm, quick response to my needs is why I’m here today,” Greenberg said during a ceremony Thursday to officially recognize the heroism of those that had saved his life last month.
The five heroes — Midtown athletic trainer Rich Rossi of Buffalo Grove, Dr. Mike Sommerfeld of Northbrook, Dr. John Wolf of Lake Forest, and Rich Franklin and Dr. Anita Gupta of Deerfield — were all on hand to see Greenberg for the first time since the Sept. 27 heart attack.
“I thought, ‘he’s someone’s husband, mentor, father and he’s got to be around 50 ... there’s no way he’s not getting up and getting out of here,’” Rossi said. “That’s kind of what was going through my mind and that’s all I needed to get through it.”
Recalling that morning, Rossi said Franklin alerted him about the situation at 5:45 a.m. He came to find that Greenberg had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. Within that time, Sommerfeld, Gupta and Wolf had come to help with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Greenberg’s pulse and breathing started up again three minutes later, and he was conscious and talking by the time the paramedics arrived minutes after that.
Surrounded by more than 40 friends and family members Nov. 1, Rossi, Franklin, Gupta, Sommerfeld and Wolf were honored by both the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Department and the American Heart Association in the health club’s café.
They were also thanked by Greenberg himself, who has recently recovered from a double-bypass surgery. He also told them the good news that he didn’t suffer any lingering heart damage as a result of their efforts and the surgery.
“For your response and your willingness to help get me back, I can’t ever thank you guys enough,” Greenberg said.
According to Lt. Kevin Griegel of the Deerfield-Bannockburn Fire Department, about 384,000 people die each year from similar situations.
“When we look at the people that have sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital, only about 8 percent of them survive,” Griegel said.
Griegel and Fire Chief Ian Kazian explained that community members could help prevent many of these situations by learning how to conduct CPR and how to use an AED, and added that the those five honorees are evidence of that.