HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sunday marks the beginning of the National EMS week so it’s time to recognize the day-to-day heroes that save us in our most vulnerable moments.
But sometimes, first responders need help, too.
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Sunday morning, was an emotional reunion for one lifeguard and the good samaritans who helped saved his life.
“It’s an emotional day for me so I’m alive today because it’s EMS personnel,” said Honolulu Ocean Safety lifeguard Norm Skorge.
On Jan. 11, Skorge was doing laps in the pool at The Oahu Club in Hawaii Kai when he said he didn’t feel well, and then everything went black.
Skorge sunk to the bottom of the pool as he was in cardiac arrest.
“I’m alive today because of bystanders’ CPR — because of me being in trouble and someone yelling for help,” said Skorge. “I’m alive today because of my buddy Joe Lileikes who jumped in the pool and threw me on deck and began CPR.”
Joe Lileikes is Skorge’s longtime friend who used every ounce of his strength to pull the 200-pound man out of the water.
“I saw Norm stuck under the lane line. I don’t even know how I got him out,” said Lileikes. “I thought people helped me but apparently before I knew I was just going through chest compressions because I knew a little bit of his past. As soon as I did that, 911 the chain of command worked”
EMS arrived in about 3 minutes. That’s when Paramedic Mitch Kam took over.
Fortunately, the Honolulu club had an AED.
“I was on the scene first and they had bystander CPR going. You guys were doing great,” explained Kam. ” We shocked Norm once, he came out of ventricular fibrillation and started to respond to us. By the time we got him into the truck he was talking.”
They got him medication and he was rushed to the hospital.
EMS reported the hospital did a stent operation on Skorge after doctors found a 90% blockage of a major artery in his heart.
He was discharged from the hospital two days later.
“I’m here today — healthier than I’ve been maybe in 20 years. I’m here today with a no neural deficit because of the quick CPR. Because of the AED. Because I didn’t lose oxygen to my brain,” said Skorge.
Skorge is continuing his work as an Ocean Safety 911 dispatcher and supervisor.
In honor of the 47th Annual National Emergency Medical Services, Honolulu EMS honored Kam as the EMS Week Hero. The Saint Louis School graduate joined EMS in 1995.
EMS Director Dr. James Ireland said that people all over Oahu every day have a cardiac arrest. But if people nearby know CPR and there is an AED nearby — this is an example that people can come back and live a normal life.
Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page
Honolulu Hale will be lit up in orange, white and blue for National EMS Week from Sunday, May 15 to Saturday, May 21.