Pawtucket firefighter receives thanks from Texas man for saving life

Jerry Jones (left) of Fort Worth, Texas stopped by fire headquarters with his son Greg (right) to personally thank Fire Lt. David Reed for helping to save his life when he was stricken with a heart attack in a Newport church.

It was a totally unexpected life or death moment but Pawtucket Fire Lt. David Reed, with decades of training and practice as an EMT, did not hesitate.

He bent over a 71-year-old man who had collapsed in the Newport church they were both attending to hear a musical program, a few days before Christmas in 2012. The heart attack was as potentially lethal as it was sudden when Reed sprang into action.

"He started CPR on my dad," related Portsmouth resident Greg Jones, a since retired Coast Guardsman whose father, Jerry Jones, was visiting from Fort Worth, Texas. "He died in there. They felt for a pulse and he didn't have one. I was basically paralyzed because it was my dad," although he was still able to call 911.

Reed kept up his efforts until Newport EMTs arrived and administered shock pulses "two or three times before his heart came back," the son said.

Monday, Jerry Jones, now 73 and looking tanned and fit, paid a visit to Pawtucket fire headquarters on Roosevelt Avenue to say thanks to the man he credits with saving his life.

Jones recalled that the concert had just started when he was stricken, as his horrified wife and daughter also looked on. Monday the retired insurance claims vice president chatted amiably about the fishing in Texas and invited Reed, who said it would be his first visit to the state, to come down and enjoy some Texas hospitality. Reed said he'd like to.

"I'm doing good. I don't have any problems at all," save for a cranky back, Jones said. "I'm hoping if something happens again," he smiled, "I'm next to (Reed) or someone like him."

Jones after he was stricken and revived was transported to Newport Hospital and later to Miriam Hospital in Providence, where a stint was applied for his blockage. Last year he contacted the EMTs in Newport to thank them and they were able to lead him to Reed, who he previously did not have a chance to visit until Monday.

Reed, a 21-year city firefighter who previously worked nine years for the North Providence Fire Department, among other awards was cited by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross for his work in the New Orleans area in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Reed said it was gratifying for him to meet Jones because such followup is rare in his business. "I really appreciate it," he told Jones. "You're always wondering how people made out," he said.