Posted on 10/25/2015
Survivor Ira Gura with his hero Mike Vanneman

2015 Nominee – Mike Vanneman
Survivor – Ira Gura, San Jose, CA, 76 at time of event (April 19, 2015)
Location of event – Airport

My name is Ira Gura, and I am 76-years-old. On April 19th of this year, my wife and I flew from LAX to San Jose, CA, to visit our daughter and her family. Just before we left for the trip, I felt a strange pain in the center of my back and was slightly nauseous. Since I had back surgery the year before I didn’t really think much of it, but decided to use a wheelchair. Upon landing, my wife pushed me in a wheelchair. We were conversing pleasantly until half way down the corridor she asked me a question, but didn’t hear a response. She looked at me and saw that I was grey and lifeless. I had had a sudden and totally unexpected cardiac arrest!  

My wife started screaming.

Mike Vanneman was just then coming out of a bookstore and immediately took charge. He knew exactly what to do, having been trained as a first responder as a volunteer firefighter. He gave me CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When I failed to respond, he sent another traveler to get one of the airport’s 47 automated external defibrillators, which he then used three times to shock me back to life and my heart began to beat again. Mike is quick to point out that other travelers also stepped in immediately; two nurses helped with chest compressions and a woman comforted my wife.

The San Jose Fire Department arrived three minutes after the 911 call. The paramedics administered oxygen, ran an EKG, started an IV, and monitored my vital signs.

I was rushed to surgery in O’Connor Hospital and was still in danger because of severe arterial blockages. I was immediately fitted with two stents which stabilized me in preparation for having quadruple bypass surgery a week later. Fortunately, I had not lost much of my heart function due to Mike’s quick action. The operation was a success and I returned home to Los Angeles a couple of weeks later. My recovery has been excellent. I starting walking therapy almost immediately and have been following a heart healthy diet. I am doing fine, able to return to work and enjoy my family of four children and six grandchildren. 

I realize how lucky we are. I owe my life to Mike for his quick action in coming to my rescue and taking charge so that that I could be subsequently successfully treated by the San Jose Fire and Police departments, the personnel at Mineta San Jose International Airport, and the staff at O’Connor Hospital.  

I had the good fortune to thank Mike personally three weeks after my cardiac arrest. 

I recommend special recognition for Mike Vanneman for saving my life and as an opportunity for him to further his efforts to inspire everyone to learn CPR. 

Nominated by Ira Gura

Note: This was the second time Mike Vanneman saved a life in the past year. More...