In 2006, Steven Goulet sat down at the bar with a friend and ordered a cold drink after a long day of work at his garage.
He didn't even take a sip.
He slumped forward, and his head hit the bar as soon as the drink was delivered. His eyes rolled back.
Luckily, a nurse and others around him took turns giving him chest compressions. He had no memory of the 22 minutes it took for his pulse to be restored. He had a complete cardiac arrest at the age of 27.
As Goulet lay comatose in the hospital, the doctors informed his family that even if he lived, he would likely have significant brain damage.
But when Goulet finally came to, not only was he his old self, but he quickly learned that CPR had likely saved him. It was an event that altered his life.
Since then, Goulet has become an EMT and given CPR to innumerable patients to save other people's lives. He has also worked to inspire regular people to attend CPR training.
He talks about what occurred to him in the pub nine years ago and says, "It's incredible. "I would not have succeeded if no one understood how to perform CPR."
Born and raised in Blackstone, Mass., he owned a car repair business in his hometown before his life would forever change. It required a lot of overtime. Nearly eleven o'clock came, and his friend dropped by the garage, startled to see Goulet still at work.
Goulet reported, "He said, let's go get a beer."
Goulet later remarked that he was glad he hadn't been left alone and that it was even better than a nurse was at the bar when they arrived at the Millerville Club. She started performing CPR as his friend called for assistance, and when she became exhausted, she recruited other patrons of the bar to take turns.
They repeatedly felt for a pulse. Nothing. About fifteen minutes passed throughout it.
“People said, ‘Stop, stop. He’s going to be brain dead,'" he later learned. But, he said, “She just kept going.”
According to the National Library of Medicine, brain damage can occur after as little as three minutes without a pulse, and death can occur in as little as four to six minutes. After the town paramedics came, it was another seven minutes before they were able to restore his pulse.
It was Brugada syndrome, a potentially fatal electrical heart disease that is occasionally inherited. Despite Goulet having no family history of Brugada, he called the specialists at Rhode Island Hospital, and his fears were later proved to be correct.
Goulet had a defibrillator inserted in his chest so that it could shock his heart when it experienced aberrant ventricular rhythms. However, he eventually started taking a prescription since they were occurring so regularly, and it significantly decreased the requirement for those shocks.
It was too stressful to handle his garage once more. Goulet, who is married and has kids, decided to start looking for a new job. He started taking EMT classes after finding that his disability precluded him from becoming a truck driver, which was motivated by his own experience.
"I wanted to be an EMT for that reason. According to Goulet, "I thought I'd have greater empathy for people and what they were going through." "I wanted to help them the way people were able to help me if that occurred to someone else," the person said.
After volunteering and working part-time with the Chepachet Fire Department, he eventually obtained an "EMT-Cardiac" license and accepted a full-time position in Woonsocket with Medtech Ambulance.
Unsurprisingly, Goulet was given the responsibility of riding with Michael Marcoux on his first day of work. Marcoux led the paramedic crew that assisted in saving Goulet's life. A nurse, bar patrons, and a police officer who had just arrived at the scene were taking over the resuscitation efforts when Marcoux, an EMT, and two other EMTs from the Blackstone Fire Department arrived.
"The teamwork was fantastic," recalls Marcoux. "Very, very rarely do you have an outcome like Steven" in cardiac arrest cases.
Goulet estimates that, since becoming an EMT and joining a busy ambulance service, he has performed CPR hundreds of times.
"I've transported people to the hospital and saved lives. Even if I hadn’t gotten a pulse back, I still had a viable patient to work with,” he says. “It's now a passion. Never have I been happier than I am right now.”