New York woman who saved husband's life inspires others to learn CPR

Lisa Wiles (right) helped save her husband, Dan, by performing CPR. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Wiles)

Lisa Wiles was in the kitchen prepping dinner in April 2020 when she heard her husband, Dan, shout an expletive from the other room.

She figured it was a reaction to the news. Still, she went to check on him.

"His eyes weren't focused on anything, and he was making these horrible breathing sounds," Lisa said. "I thought at first he was choking."

She shouted at him to see if he would respond, then ran for the phone to call 911. Dan had problems regulating his heart rhythm at various times in recent years, so she feared the worst.

"The 911 operator could hear the sounds he was making and said, 'You have to start CPR,'" Lisa recalled.

Dan, then 57, was in cardiac arrest. Lisa, then 51, had CPR training nearly two decades earlier. With the 911 operator instructing her, Lisa dragged Dan onto the floor and began compressions.

"My hands knew what to do," Lisa said. "I started CPR and (the operator) counted for me."

A few minutes later, an officer from the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department burst through the door of their home outside Syracuse, New York, and hooked up an automated external defibrillator. When the machine indicated Dan's heart wasn't in a shockable rhythm, they continued with CPR until a second sheriff's officer arrived and relieved Lisa.

"I had no idea how tiring it was," Lisa said.

A second attempt to use the AED again indicated Dan's heart was not in a shockable rhythm. Then an ambulance arrived and paramedics used their defibrillator. This time, the machine indicated a shockable rhythm and provided a shock. Thirteen minutes after his heart stopped, Dan's heart resumed beating.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lisa was allowed only a brief visit in the ER. A nurse warned her that he was sometimes confused and repeating himself.

As Lisa walked in, Dan pointed at his chest, motioning to ask if she had done CPR.

"I said 'yes' and he b