Retired Kent firefighter saves a life

Diane Bennett (wife) and Tim Bennett

Madison Tromler

Retired Kent firefighter saves a man’s life from Madison Tromler on Vimeo.

One Tuesday evening in February, retired Kent firefighter Robert Colecchi was playing pick-up basketball in United Methodist Church with a group of men.

Little did he know that day, he would save a life.

“A basket got scored and seven of us ran to the other end of the court and someone looked back and saw Tim laying on the ground,” Colecchi said.

“I remember starting the game and then after that I don’t remember anything. Can’t remember a thing,” said Tim Bennett, the man who Colecchi saved.

Colecchi had only known Bennett the month prior through a few games and small talk.

“I rushed up to him, rolled him over, saw he was purple, checked his pulse, saw he didn’t have a pulse,” Colecchi said. “He wasn’t breathing, so I immediately started chest compressions on him and told someone to call 911.”

Instincts that never went away after almost 30 years of serving the city of Kent.

The senior pastor of the church, David Palmer, happened to be working late that evening when someone urgently asked if the church had an automated external defibrillator. Luckily, there is one right outside of his office.

“Suddenly, a fella was running up the hall,” Palmer said. “My own feeling as the player was running with it down the gym was, ‘Oh Lord, I hope this thing works.’”

With his skills learned as a firefighter and paramedic, Colecchi used the life-saving device to shock Bennett’s heart back into a pumping rhythm.

“The shock restarts the heart, so that’s what happened,” Colecchi said. “I gave him the shock and then you continue CPR and even before the ambulance got there, he started breathing on his own and had his own pulse.”

Bennett survived the heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. He is now recovering at home with his wife Diane.

“I’m very grateful that my husband is alive.” Diane said. “You need to be grateful for everyday and live your life to the fullest everyday because it can be taken away in a moment.”

“Nothing can compare to being saved,” Bennett said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”

The doctors at University Hospitals told Diane that he would’ve had a 2 percent chance of living if it weren’t for Colecchi.

“My professional opinion; he would not have lived if someone wasn’t there to intervene.” Colecchi said.

Diane said there are no words to tell him how thankful they are.

Even after years of helping people, Colecchi hasn’t experienced anything quite like this.

“I can’t remember really saving a lot of lives,” Colecchi said. “You really don’t save a whole lot of people, unfortunately.”

Bennett said nothing in his life can top this experience.

“I’m glad I was here for him,” Colecchi said, “doing what I love to do.”

Madison Tromler is a TV2 reporter. Contact her at [email protected].