Longtime Denton resident Irene Burk credits three good Samaritans with coming to her rescue Wednesday afternoon when she found herself gasping for air after leaving a grocery store on University Drive.
“I sometimes have 12 percent lung capacity, and a few times a year, I just go into respiratory arrest,” Burk said during a telephone interview Thursday morning. “I nearly died and don’t know the names of the men that helped me, but I want to thank them.”
Burk said when she got back to her car after shopping, two men noticed she was having difficulty breathing and asked if she was all right.
“I said I was OK and waved them on and as they got to the door of the store, they turned back around and saw me,” she said.
Just seconds later, another man pulled up alongside her car while she was sitting inside. This time, Burk said, she was completely out of breath and asked the man to call for help on his cellphone.
“He pulled out his phone and started dialing and it was then that the other two men came running back shouting to call an ambulance as they swooped me up and brought me into the store for some cool air,” Burk said.
A Denton emergency response team arrived just a minute later, Burk said, and once she was hooked up to an oxygen machine, she started feeling much better.
“The EMT response is above reproach here,” Burk said. “I used to work for a hospital system in Boston, and Denton crews are the best.”
Fire officials said timing is critical when a patient is deprived of oxygen.
“You also have to take into account the level of deprivation,” Denton Fire Battalion Chief Chuck Goodman said. “For each minute the patient is completely deprived, the chances for survival decrease.”
“I couldn’t breathe and I get teary-eyed just thinking about how complete strangers helped me,” Burk said. “They saved my life and I just want to thank everyone that helped.”
MEGAN GRAY-HATFEILD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.