Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Jeff Anderson got one of those late-night calls every parent dreads.

His 20-year-old son, Jesse, had collapsed after suffering what turned out to be a heart attack the night of March 6 at The Observatory concert venue in Santa Ana.

“Getting that call from (my son’s) girlfriend was one of the biggest nightmares I’ve ever had in my life,” Anderson told City News Service. “If it wasn’t for the police officers on duty and the EMT, my son wouldn’t be here today. They performed CPR for a long time — nobody knows how long really.”

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said the lifesaving measures taken by the first responders went on for an estimated nine minutes.

Jesse Anderson, of Cypress, has made a full recovery, and his father has spent the past few months tracking down the officers and medic who helped save his son’s life so he could thank them personally.

He will get the chance Wednesday afternoon at The Observatory, when Cpl. Oscar Lizardi, Officer John Rodriguez and paramedic Kevin De Cou are presented with a lifesaving award from the police department, Bertagna said.

At the time his son’s heart stopped beating, it looked grim, Anderson said. “They were saying it wasn’t good, he wasn’t going to make it.”

The young man spent four days in the intensive care unit of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital in an induced coma before being transferred to a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Los Angeles.

“They induced coma because he wasn’t coming to in the ER,” Anderson said. “Then they put him in a hypothermic state to lower his body temperature because that way the blood goes to the part of the body that might have suffered damage and lost out on oxygen.”

It took another day to bring him out of the coma, his father said.

At Kaiser, his son’s heart didn’t “respond the way they hoped,” and he was outfitted with a “Zoll life vest” heart monitor/defibrillator which would shock him if he went into cardiac arrest again.

The physicians are still unsure what exactly triggered the heart attack, other than severe dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.

“They said, ‘Live your life now,”‘ the elder Anderson said. “We’re so blessed today because my son is normal with no side effects.”

The Golden West College student, who earned Eagle Scout status by refurbishing 14 doors and planting a meditation garden at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Cypress, is not what you’d call a party animal, his father said.

“He’s a good kid. He doesn’t drink. I told him he can’t go to shows like that anymore,” he said with a laugh.

With so much public debate lately about police misconduct, Anderson said it was important to let everyone know about the good officers do.

“You hear them bashed every day now. People take for (granted) the good they do, which they do day in and day out,” he said. “I’m so excited today that I’ll get to … give a hug to the people who saved my son. That night, those officers saved two lives because I don’t know what I would do without him.”

He also praised The Observatory for adding a police officer and medic to the staff of the live music venue.

“I thanked the manager yesterday for having an EMT on site, and he said they only brought them on a month prior to the event,” Anderson said.

–City News Service 

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