Peoria cardiac arrest survivor thanks fire department that helped save his life

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. — Nick Knapp has been handing out t-shirts for 25 years. It’s his way of thanking Peoria’s firefighters.

“Peoria is really lucky to have people like this in our community to make sure we are safe and sound on an everyday basis,” said Nick Knapp.

Tuesday, Knapp recounted September 17, 1994. He was a junior at Woodruff High School playing basketball in the gym when he went into an unexplained cardiac arrest. Within seconds, his father and an off duty Peoria firefighter began CPR while waiting for first responders.

“Those first moments after an event like that are extremely crucial,” said Knapp.

He says it’s the CPR training they had, and quick thinking, that saved his life.

“Between Peoria Fire and AMT, the teamwork that we have in Peoria gives the citizens of Peoria and those that are visiting the best chance of pre-hospital cardiac arrest survival in the country,” said Tony Ardis, Assistant Fire Chief for the Peoria Fire Department. “New studies have come about, and we are constantly changing the performance based on tests that have been performed.”

And it all boils down to one simple statement: “CPR saves lives.” A statement that Knapp hopes spreads the message to get more people in central Illinois CPR certified.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about them, it’s about the people out there reading this so you can be the next person that possibly saves someone’s life and gives them an extra 25 years like I was given,” said Knapp.

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