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updated: 3/25/2014 9:42 AM

Off-duty West Dundee fireman saves woman's life

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  • James Amos

    James Amos


The outside world may call James Amos a hero, but the off-duty West Dundee firefighter who saved a woman's life at an Algonquin gym last week says he was merely in the right place at the right time.

"I always feel like I have a duty to act," Amos said. "I just wanted to help."

Amos, 38, of Carpentersville, had wrapped up his workout on the treadmill at Lifetime Fitness Thursday when he heard a distressed voice over the intercom about a patron needing assistance.

He walked over to investigate and found an unresponsive woman in her mid-30s on the ground surrounded by a few employees standing over her.

She had suffered cardiac arrest, officials said.

Amos checked the woman and found she wasn't breathing and that she didn't have a pulse. So he performed CPR on her and gave her two breaths.

One of the employees brought over the gym's automated external defibrillator, which Amos used to shock her heart once. She still didn't have a pulse, so he continued to perform CPR on her.

Two minutes later, she started breathing on her own, but she still had not regained consciousness.

Shortly after that, firefighters from the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District arrived and took the woman to Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin.

Information wasn't immediately available about the woman's condition Monday, but Amos said he has heard she is doing much better.

The chances of a patient surviving cardiac arrest increase if the automated external defibrillator is used within the first few minutes, he said.

"I just consider myself willing to do what it takes when the moment arises," said Amos, a West Dundee firefighter for almost 13 years.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District notified Amos' superiors in West Dundee about what he did for the woman, knowing Amos would probably keep it to himself.

"Firemen tend to be rather reticent about bringing attention to themselves," Assistant Fire Chief Peter Van Dorp said. "We wanted to make sure that his department understood that he went a bit above and beyond.

"There's no legal requirement that they step in and help and he chose to do so, which I think anybody would."

Van Dorp also commends the business for having an automated external defibrillator readily available, something the district has encouraged other businesses to do for the benefit of their employees.

West Dundee Fire Chief Randy Friese plans on recommending Amos for the Lamplighter Award, an internal honor for village employees given every six months. More commendations could follow.

"It's a good thing he was there, because he definitely made a difference," Friese said.

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