Grateful for more time

Washougal man who was dead for three minutes meets, thanks officers who saved him with an AED

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 
photoOfficers Jesse Layman, left, and Dan McPherson, right, receive Life Saving Medals and a Certificates of Merit for their quick actions that saved the life of Jason Dodge, 36, center, on May 6. Dodge got a chance Monday night to meet the two men for the first time and thank them. Dodge's son Bryce, 10, watches.

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When Jason Dodge woke up in a hospital bed on Mother's Day, it took him several hours to realize he had been there almost a week.

He had no recollection of why he was there, so the details he learned from his family: He had died, been brought back to life and been in a medically-induced coma for the past week. He was told that he had two police officers to thank for his being alive.

"I was just pretty shocked that it had happened to me," he said. "I was completely blown away that I survived that."

It's been more than a month since Washougal Police Officers Dan McPherson and Jesse Layman arrived at Dodge's house on 53rd Street in the early morning hours of May 6 and deployed an Automated External Defibrillator to restart his heartbeat.

Now, Dodge, 36, has, he hopes, many more years. His wife, Jen, has her husband back and the couple's three children were given their father back.

Doctors told Dodge that one in 20 people survive his circumstance, which is called sudden cardiac death syndrome, which has been known to bring sudden death to otherwise healthy people.

Because of their swift actions, McPherson and Layman were awarded the Life Saving Medal and the Certificate of Merit during Monday night's Washougal City Council meeting.

Getting word of the awards, Dodge took the ceremony as an opportunity to meet the men and thank them for their gift.

"I'm honored to be here," Dodge said, tearing up as he addressed McPherson, Layman and those who attended the council meeting.

"Those precious seconds most likely saved my life … I get more time to be a father and a husband."

'Long, single snore'

The last thing that Dodge remembers was falling asleep after a typical Sunday evening. He and his wife, Jen, had watched the season finale for the Amazing Race and joked around before going to bed. Tomorrow there would work and school for the kids.

But after sleeping for about two hours, Jen awoke to find Jason making a strange noise.

"It was a long, single snore," she said. "I tried waking him up. I tried three different times to shake him awake."

He didn't, however, wake up, and she realized he wasn't breathing. She quickly called 911. Dispatchers instructed Jen to do chest compressions.

"I thought I was a widow," Jen Dodge said.

And for three minutes, she was.

When the two officers got the call, they were eating in the agency's lunch room. They sprinted to their cars and raced to the other side of town, checking the batteries of their AEDs on the way.

Jason was clinically dead when McPherson and Layman arrived. Jen had only counted to 26 chest compressions when they knocked on the door.

McPherson did some chest compressions before ripping off Jason's shirt. He placed the pads on the front and side of the chest and Layman shocked the lifeless body.

Jason was alive again by the time paramedics arrived.

"It's very fulfilling. I'm very glad he's able to be there for his kids," McPherson said.


Emily Gillespie:http://twitter.com/col_cops; emily.gillespie@columbian.com.