MATTHEWS, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — “It would mean the world to me to meet them in person and to say, ‘thank you for saving my life,'” Kurt Fichtman told Queen City News on March 20.
He was talking about the crew at Matthews Fire and EMS.
Eleven days after pleading to find the people who watched over him, Fichtman walked into Matthews Fire and EMS station 1.
“I can’t believe there are so many people here,” said Fichtman as he walked in with his family. “You couldn’t bottle up the amount of emotion, the amount of gratitude I have.”
On March 8, Kurt Fichtman was working out at Planet Fitness in Matthews when he suffered cardiac arrest.
“When he left, I was pretty sure he did not make it,” said Ash Allen, an associate at Planet Fitness that morning. “It was very emotional.”
The story still brings tears to everyone in the room.
“Putting a face with a name, seeing the patient, seeing he is up and alive, these are things we don’t get to see every day,” added Travis Michael, the communications dispatcher who took the initial call for help.
To the firefighter riding in the back of the ambulance with him…
“I made sure his wife knew that one of the first things he said in the back of the ambulance when he came to was actually asking for her,” said Pablo Maldonado, a firefighter with the city of Matthews.
Kurt Fichtman said he never realized how many people played a part in making sure he returned to his wife, Elizabeth, and their two daughters, whom he affectionately calls his girls.
The emotion and weight of the day were evident as Matthews Fire awarded the Planet Fitness employees with a life-saving award.
“I was actually on my lunch break when Morgan called me and said the nurse came in and said he was in fact alive,” said Allen. “I just cried at the restaurant literally in front of everybody.”
It wasn’t all tears; Fichtman says he may be tired, but his sense of humor is there as he joked about an ambulance backing up.
His family handed everyone a guardian angel coin and a package of Lifesavers.
“It does something to me,” added Michael. “It makes me appreciate my family that is still here and the people that are watching over them in different counties.”
“Being able to actually meet the person, it just makes it worthwhile, to be honest,” said Maldonado. “Not every single time we get to actually know what happens afterward, we do our job, we do it to the best of our abilities, but sometimes it gets lost in translation.”
There’s a quote that says never meet your heroes, but that doesn’t apply here.
Because Kurt Fichtman says these heroes deserve much more credit than he can ever give during this second lifetime.
“You can’t put into words when somebody saves your life how grateful you are. Words can’t quantify it,” said Fichtman. “I feel like I couldn’t say thank you enough.”