Difibrillator helps save White City man's life

MEDFORD — Quick thinking and a handy heart defibrillator saved the life of a White City man who had a heart attack Wednesday while driving a dump truck inside the Rogue Transfer and Recycling station on Table Rock Road.

John Morse, 53, had just dumped the remnants of a burned home inside the transfer station when he suddenly slumped behind the wheel of his dump truck.

The truck crashed through a concrete barrier and hit a parked semitrailer before coming to a stop.

Rogue Transfer and Recycling risk manager Mike Messenger was inside his office when a frantic disposal worker called saying chaos had broken out inside the transfer station.

"When I learned it was possibly a heart attack I asked a co-worker to grab the (heart defibrillator)," Messenger said. "We got it four years ago and that day it proved it was worth every penny."

When Morse was pulled from the truck he was not breathing and had turned blue.

Matt Weis of Medford was tossing out a load of yard waste when he saw the scene unfold.

Weis is trained in CPR and jogged to where Messenger and the others were beginning to work on Morse's motionless body.

"In that situation you think there has to be someone better trained than you to handle things," Weis said. "But it occurred to me that maybe I was ready to do this."

Weis described Morse's face as "being more blue than anyone I'd ever seen."

Messenger attached the heart defibrillator pads to Morse. The machine reported there was not a heartbeat and suggested delivering a shock to restart the man's heart.

After the shock, a weak heartbeat was detected. Messenger and Weis then traded off performing CPR for three and a half minutes before crews from Jackson County Fire District No. 3 arrived.

They rushed Morse to Rogue Valley Medical Center, where he was placed in the cardiac-care unit. He survived the attack with minor damage to his heart and is expected to make a slow, steady recovery, according to his wife, Debbie Morse.

"He was in the right place at the right time," Debbie Morse said. "If he had been driving down the road when this happened, he could have killed himself and other people."

Debbie Morse described Messenger and Weis as "angels" for their quick work that day.

She also said that all businesses should have a heart defibrillator on hand in case of emergencies.

"Those things should be everywhere," she said. "It saved my husband's life."

Fire District 3 Captain Myron Harvey said portable defibrillators are user-friendly and can be the difference between life and death.

"The sooner you can get a defibrillator and CPR going on a heart attack victim the better the chances," Harvey said. "They did the exact right thing that day."

John Morse returned home Saturday and was resting after his ordeal.

"We are so glad to have him home," Debbie Morse said. "Those men who helped my husband are the reason he's here right now."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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