Suburban Heroes: How West Dundee, Comcast employees saved electrician's life
If any moment in Andreios Sakolari's life served as a reminder to treat every day as sacred, it was the morning of May 3 when he was performing electrical work at a West Dundee water tower.
One minute, the 24-year-old was attaching an hour meter on a pump. The next, everything went black.
Though he originally was thought to have been given an electric shock, authorities later determined that Sakolari, an Elgin resident, had suffered a cardiac arrest. If it weren't for public works employee Ryan Raczkowski and Comcast worker John Forest immediately coming to his rescue, Sakolari said, "I wouldn't be here right now."
The positive outcome was the result of several people assisting and various pieces falling into place, Fire Chief Randy Freise said, pointing to quick responses from emergency personnel and the use of a new device that allows paramedics to perform more automated CPR compressions.
The lifesaving efforts started when Raczkowski found Sakolari unconscious in the electrical room along Randall Road just before 11 a.m. and yelled for help.
Thanks to a scheduling mistake, Forest happened to be working nearby when he heard Raczkowski's call and ran to assist him. With the help of a QuadCom dispatcher giving medical instructions over the phone, they performed CPR on Sakolari until first responders arrived and took over advanced life support techniques, Freise said.
"It's just a miracle that (they were) on site while this all happened," Sakolari said. "I'm just very thankful."
Crews spent 19 minutes on the scene trying to revive Sakolari, who eventually regained some breathing and a pulse. He was taken to Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and has since made a full recovery.
Forest and Raczkowski recently were honored during a West Dundee village board meeting for their quick response and bravery. They each received the village's esteemed Lamplighter "Life Saving" Award, which was started by Village President Chris Nelson and is reserved for employees -- and occasionally civilians -- who go above and beyond to demonstrate acts of heroism.
The crews who responded from the West Dundee and Rutland-Dundee fire departments also were recognized, as was QuadCom dispatch supervisor Katrina Clancy.
"We believe God was watching over him that day," Freise said. "It's quite an amazing story of all the things that came together."
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