Man reunites with the public safety officer who saved his life

Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 6:15 PM EDT
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(9/27/2019) - James Ruthenberg would have quite the story to tell, if only he remembered the sequence of events that landed him at Memorial Healthcare in Owosso during the early morning hours of July 10.

"That night I must have been having chest pains and I drove to the hospital and then I passed out on my steering wheel. I guess the lights were on, the engine running? But, I don't remember none of that," he said.

Ruthenberg was having a heart attack and he collapsed as soon as he arrived in the parking lot of the hospital. The parking is closed during the hours he was having his emergency.

It is on the opposite of the Emergency Department, where the doors are locked. No one is typically in that area in the wee hours of the morning.

Lucky for Ruthenberg, Public Safety Officer Geno Magino was in the right place at the right time. He was on exterior patrol around 4 a.m. in that closed off area at the moment Ruthenberg pulled in.

"I went up to the vehicle to make contact with Jim to direct him to where he needed to be if he needed hospital services," said Mangino.

Ruthenberg was unresponsive when Mangino approached him.

"I was able to open the door and get access to him and assess that he was having some sort of medical emergency," Mangino said.

The officer quickly administered life-saving CPR and called for help. Dr. Christopher Clark was working in the emergency room that morning and remembers Ruthenberg's situation being very dire.

"He had probably less than a 1 percent chance of survival based on all of the circumstances," Clark said.

He believes it was the quick action of Magino that helped save Ruthenberg's life that day.

"We were able to get IVs started in the parking lot and we were able to get him on a ventilator in the parking lot and get him into the ER," Clark said.

At a ceremony to honor Mangino, the officer and patient embraced and met for the first time at the same place they crossed paths months ago. Ruthenberg knows it is a miracle that he is still alive.

"I am glad he was there and did what he did," he said.

What Mangino did that night earned him hero status. He was awarded the American Heart Association's HERO award for being a heart saver.

Mangino doesn't consider himself a hero. He is just happy to be at the right place at the right time to make a difference.

"You know I don't have many words for it. I'm glad I could have been there. It makes me happy to see him standing here smiling," Mangino said.

Both the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross offer CPR classes. See "Related Links" on the right side or bottom of this story for more information.