GENEVA, Ohio (WJW) — A Lake County man is thanking the people who saved his life after a routine trip to the YMCA turned into a life-threatening emergency.

Bill Robinson, 81, of Madison, thought he was living an active-enough lifestyle tending to the 12 varieties of apples at his sprawling orchard for Robinson’s Apple Barn in Geneva when a routine workout nearly ended his life.

“When I went into the Y, my heart was blocked, but my blood work was great. But I was in trouble, and I didn’t know it,” said Robinson.

“I just finished working out and I sat down to talk to somebody, and that’s when I went out and I went into full cardiac arrest,” he said.

Robinson credits the staff at the Lake County East End YMCA for his survival.

“I was actually off the clock … and Bill was passed out on the floor, and I could see by his face he went under cardiac arrest, so I immediately started CPR,” said an employee, who requested not to be named.

During the emergency, another colleague grabbed an AED and together they saved Robinson’s life. The staff is CPR-certified and participates in monthly training, the employee said.

Robinson later learned his heart was functioning at just 10% capacity. 

He spent the past several months in treatment for a heart blockage at University Hospitals. 

He said the March incident caught him off-guard, given his positive health checkups. He now advocates for the importance of comprehensive heart examinations.

“I thought I was healthy as an ox,” Robinson said. “The last time I was at a doctor, he said that my blood work was so good he didn’t even want to talk to me about it. What they didn’t do is check my heart. So I’m encouraging everybody out there to check their hearts.”

He said it took about six months to regain his strength and now he’s ready to harvest apples — something he would never be able to do without the staff at the YMCA. 

“If you’re going to have a heart attack, go to the YMCA, because they’re prepared; and had I had this heart attack anywhere but the Y, I would not have had a chance to make it,” Robinson said.