Gonzalez, sensing something just wasn’t right, decided he would stop by Waller’s home in Rochester’s South Wedge to check on his friend.
He found Waller in cardiac arrest and immediately administered CPR, a skill he learned in high school but had never had to use. Waller, 59, will forever be grateful to Gonzalez, 26, who chose to pass along praise to a higher power.
“I’d like to thank God because sometimes our instincts are not our own,” he said. “I don’t know why I went over. Possibly the voice of God was telling me something’s wrong.”
Waller and Gonzalez, who are deaf, met about two years ago at a group gathering.
Gonzalez provided the life-saving help until emergency responders from the Rochester Fire Department and Rural/Metro Medical Services arrived.
“This case is an especially gratifying one for us in that everything went right,” said Thomas Bonfiglio, general manager of Rural/Metro.
Gonzalez; Charles Scinta, Jason Walter, Brian Miller and Mike Scialdone from the fire department; and Amy Ruffo, Larry Onderdonk, Jeneane Terranova, Janette Myers, Mikhail Koroton and David Leisten from Rural/Metro were presented with the American Heart Association’s Heart Saver Hero Award.
According to the heart association, less than 8 percent of people who have sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive and/or survive without severe damage to the heart or vital organs.
The American Heart Association is using the story of Waller and Gonzalez in its push for mandatory CPR training for all New York high school students.
“Schools exist to teach students about life; why not teach them to save a life?” said Dr. John Cullen, board president of the AHA.
Waller wholeheartedly would agree.