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Light Rail METRO Blue Line Minneapolis

Train operator recalls 30-year-old CPR lessons, likely saving a passenger’s life

Posted by Laura Baenen | Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:29:00 PM

Train operator Jim Peach (above left) was moved to take a CPR class 30 years ago after watching helplessly as a fellow Northwest Airlines mechanic died of a heart attack at work. The next time he saw someone stricken when he was on the job, Peach knew what to do.

That time was the morning of Sept. 19, 2018. When Peach pulled his southbound Blue Line train into the Cedar-Riverside Station, he saw a crowd around a man having a seizure on the platform.

From the Rail Control Center, Rail Supervisor Jim Clancy (above right) called 911 as Peach and a bystander removed the man’s backpack to lay him on his back.

“I remember saying ‘We’re losing him.’ He was turning purple,” Peach said.

Peach estimates he performed about 10 chest compressions before the man’s color returned. Recalling his training, he turned the man on his side and asked for his name. The man responded “Kyle.”

“That’s when my head about exploded,” Peach said. “It was great. I was just, ‘My God, that just worked.’ When I got up and left, a lot of people started clapping.”

In January, Peach was recognized for having taken action by the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Committee. He also earned admiration from his colleagues.

“He likely saved that man’s life,” said Clancy, who watched the situation unfold on cameras back at the RCC. 

Peach maintained his composure long enough to move the train to the Franklin Avenue Station, where he was already scheduled for a break. After leaving the train, he was overcome with emotion.

“It was like a truck ran over me because I didn’t understand what my brain and body had just done,” Peach said. “I have never felt like that. My body was numb. Everybody tells me it was the adrenaline.”

Peach had trouble sleeping for a long time and still wonders how Kyle is doing, what his full name is and would like to know more about him.

If they could meet, Peach said he’d like to tell him about the man who inspired him to take a CPR class. His name was Gene, and they worked in Northwest Airlines’ machine shop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“I felt really bad. A real nice guy I worked with died, and I couldn’t help him,” Peach said.

Peach knows firsthand the importance of saving a life. As a baby, he was in a house fire on Feb. 19, 1957. An aunt and uncle rushed him to a hospital.

“I was very badly burned at four months old, and it took me 61 years and seven months to pay it forward,” marveled Peach, who at 62 still bears scars from that fire.

Registered nurse Alicia Bravo, who works in the emergency department at Hennepin Healthcare and is a CPR advocate for the American Heart Association, was amazed at what Peach was able to do.

“He hadn’t taken a course in 30 years, but maybe he had been hearing all these messages since then about CPR and that could have been with him,” Bravo said. “He’s very brave for having done something.”  

Where to learn CPR

Visit the American Heart Association’s website to find out where and when CPR classes are available in your area. Visit www.heart.org/en/cpr to learn more.

A CPR kiosk can also be found in the skyway level of Hennepin Healthcare’s Red Building, 730 South 8th Street, Minneapolis. The kiosk includes a mannequin that gives live feedback to compressions.

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