CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Jeff and Leslie Hayton have always had something in common with Mike Gerin, a man they only recently met.
“I grew up listening to Hootie and the Blowfish,” he says.
But now, a shared life-and-death experience is even more bonding for the three of them.
“I was talking to my brother who was [also at the recent Hootie and the Blowfish concert], and that’s all I remember. And the next thing, I was in the ambulance. And apparently, [Mike] was around,” Jeff Hayton says with a laugh.
The Haytons were walking out of the concert at PNC Music Pavilion in September, when suddenly, Jeff dropped to the ground.
Off-duty Charlotte Fire Department firefighter Mike Gerin was close behind.
“I thought, ‘Oh man, this guy…this guy’s in cardiac arrest,” Gerin says.
“It was terrifying,” his wife Leslie Hayton says. “All I could think about was my kids, Jeff, waiting for it all to be over.”
Gerin went to work, performing CPR for 15 minutes on the husband and dad, before paramedics got there.
“We all go to a lot of cardiac arrests,” he says. “But never in the 30 years that I’ve been a fireman, have I had a guy going into cardiac arrest in front of me.”
The group says things seemed to line up just right to help save Jeff’s life. Gerin had fallen back from his group in the crowd, putting him in the right place, at the right time, to help the stranger he is now connected to, forever.
“I’ve never been so appreciative to have two ribs broken,” Jeff Hayton says, laughing.
“It would be a totally different story right now,” his wife says. “And because of that, and because of the training that Mike had, it’s really helped us.”
Jeff says after this whole experience, he is heading to a CPR class himself, so he could potentially pay it forward.