Tragedy averted for a Portland visitor, who was finishing his Hawaii vacation, thanks to three quick thinking teachers who saved his life. 

Seventy-one-year-old Lawrence Gill had a heart attack as he was getting ready to fly back home on Monday.Three women he had never met before immediately jumped right in to save his life. 

“I want to thank you with all my heart I can’t say enough,” said Gill. He spoke by phone to the women who saved him for the first time since it happened. They were all at the Hawaiian Airlines lobby checking in for their flights, when he suddenly collapsed.

“Before I could even shed all my stuff to try CPR myself, these three wonderful women came out of nowhere and immediately started CPR,” said Gill’s wife Audrey.

“He started turning purple and we automatically started doing compressions,” said Isabel Gutierrez, one of three women who saved Lawrence.

“I yelled get the AED because he was not coming. back I couldn’t get a pulse, nothing!” said Cassandra Turner, who also helped Lawrence.

Once they got the AED, or defibrillator, the three teachers from San Diego knew exactly what to do because they’re CPR certified. Emergency officials then took over and rushed Gill to the hospital. 

“I want to thank you with all my heart. You were an angel and a very special person to us, you and the other two ladies,” said Lawrence Gill.

AED’s were installed at Hawaii’s airports 10 years ago. There are now 220 of them statewide. On Oahu, there are 175 of them. The idea is to have them no more than 200 feet apart from each other or 90 seconds away.

Officials say it has paid off dramatically. The survival rate for heart attacks since they were installed is 67%, more than double the rate at other international airports.

As for the women, don’t call them heroes.

“We’re focused and we did what we had to do as civilians,” said Gutierrez.
“Yeah there was a need, there was a need,” said Turner.
“And there was a reason why we were there,” said Kim Cummings, the third Good Samaritan.

The state says 35 lives have been saved since the AED’s were installed at the airports. Lawrence and Audrey Gill flew back home today. They have two daughters and two grandchildren, who are also very grateful.