Seconds after Angela Johns went to get a glass of water for her husband, Jerry, on a break from yard work, she heard his body hit the garage floor.
With a 911 dispatcher's help, skills from a CPR class she took 30 years ago kicked in as she tried to revive her husband. Minutes later, paramedics and firefighters arrived to help and take him to the hospital. He lived.
On Valentine's Day, they were reunited with the first responders who helped them to spread awareness about cardiac arrest on a holiday when many people associate hearts with chocolates and stuffed animals.
"The worst day of my life has a happily ever after," Angela Johns, 49, said. "He stands beside me every day."
Dr. Robert Sanchez, a cardiologist affiliated with the American Heart Association, said heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The association has made it a priority to teach CPR to schools, offices and other groups in the Tampa Bay area, with more than 150,000 people trained so far, he said.
That training made the difference on that day in April 2015 for 55-year-old Jerry Johns, who had unknowingly developed a blood clot from a procedure to treat a stomach ulcer, the couple said. Doctors told them he wasn't supposed to live.
The event honored 911 dispatcher Leyana Lacognata as well as first responders Lt. Brooke Waring, James Norberg, Douglas Howard and John Mortillite from the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District; and Jacque Vazquez and Alex Vidal from Sunstar Paramedics. Vidal now works for Oldsmar Fire Rescue.