Survivors share stories, thank paramedics at Glen Ellen event

John Kaufman had just dropped off a gym bag for his wife, who was at work at the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. He turned around and collapsed to the ground.

Someone dialed 911, paramedics began CPR and an ambulance team continued to work on him on the way to the hospital, where emergency room staff took over.

And more than eight months later Kaufman is relishing life, having survived a sudden cardiac arrest.

"First responders, if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have a life, my wife wouldn't have a husband and my children wouldn't have a father," Kaufman, a Santa Rosa equine veterinarian, said Thursday.

Kaufman and five other people who survived catastrophic emergencies told their stories at the 19th annual Survivors' Reunion hosted by the Sonoma County Paramedic Association at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen.

Survivors, standing alongside the emergency personnel who helped them, told of their gratitude to a crowd of about 250 emergency personnel and their families at the event, held each year during Emergency Medical Services Week.

"I am lucky to be here in front of all the people who did their job and did it really well," said Richard Sherwin, 78, of Cloverdale.

Sherwin was standing behind an 18-wheeler Sept. 21, 2011, when the truck inexplicably began moving in reverse. The semi ran him over and he was caught up in the wheel well before the truck stopped after about 20 feet.

When the 911 call came in, Cloverdale Fire Battalion Chief Rick Blackmon made a split-second decision to call for a medical helicopter.

"That call probably saved a man's life," said Brent Farris, KZST radio host and event emcee.

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