Chagrin Falls man urges everyone to learn CPR after helping save friend’s life

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio (WJW) – A Chagrin Falls man said saving his friend’s life felt like winning the lottery.

Steven Raichilson, 70, described how a routine day of playing tennis at the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club quickly spiraled into an emergency when his friend collapsed.

“Someone ran over and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s not breathing. He’s turning blue. Call 911.'”

Raichilson said he knew how to perform CPR. Although he never used his training during an actual emergency, seeing his friend down on the court meant he could not hesitate to help.

“I started pumping away for probably three or four minutes and nothing happened… He was blue and lifeless,” said Raichilson.

As minutes passed, he did not stop the chest compressions, even when others around him believed it was too late.

An employee arrived with a defibrillator, one of several at the facility and began to assist. Minutes later, first responders arrived.

“He gave a cough and gasp, Jack, and we looked at each other like, wow,” said Raichilson.

The moment was even more powerful for Raichilson, considering the only reason he learned CPR was because of his son’s near brush with death during a heart attack years prior in California.

“The EMTs heard my daughter-in-law screaming,” recalled Raichilson. “They ran into the woods to where the screams were, reached her on foot and started doing CPR on my son and literally brought him back.”

In honor of the first responders who brought his son back from the brink that day, Raichilson and his wife sponsored a CPR class for friends at a Solon fire station, never thinking he would one day use the training on a friend.

“If it wasn’t for my son having his heart attack, Jack may have not lived through his episode,” he said. “The doctors there said if it wasn’t for CPR and the defibrillator, he wouldn’t be here today, so I know we saved his life. CPR does work.”

He encourages others to learn the lifesaving skill and said you never know when you could be the one person to play a critical role in saving the life of a relative, friend or stranger.

“A full circle moment… we saved another human being which I say it’s like winning the lottery,” he said.

It’s a jackpot even better than one he could have dreamed.

“To save a life is to save a world. If you can save one life during your life, you helped countless people who love the person you are saving.”

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