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Brothers Revive a Fellow Firefighter

Brothers Revive a Fellow Firefighter

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

August 14, 2010

LYNNFIELD — Fire Lieutenant Keith Gauvreau, 48, had just arrived at a brush fire Thursday when he said he was not feeling well and then collapsed and fell to the ground.

He was not visibly breathing, and his fellow firefighters could not find a pulse.

The 27-year Lynnfield Fire Department veteran had suffered a major heart attack.

“He was in trouble,’’ said Fire Chief Thomas Bogart. “Were it not for the fact that those trained paramedics were right there with medical equipment . . . he undoubtedly would have died.’’

Bogart credited Gauvreau’s survival to the quick thinking of Fire Captain Michael Feinberg, who was standing beside him as he fell.

Feinberg saves lives for a living, but he said reviving a man that he had known for 14 years was “more emotional.’’

His training kicked in, however. Feinberg said it took less than a minute to get help and equipment to Gauvreau as he lay on the ground in some woods near Kimball Lane.

Five more Lynnfield firefighters and one from Saugus also came to the rescue.

They defibrillated Gauvreau three times before an ambulance arrived.

After the fourth shock, Gauvreau’s heart regained a safer rhythm and Feinberg gave him an IV with medication to prevent a second attack.

In the ambulance, his breathing returned and he regained consciousness halfway to North Shore Medical Center, where he spent the night in intensive care. He was transferred to a heart unit late yesterday.

Lynnfield firefighters have been visiting him in shifts to show support, Bogart said. Feinberg stayed with Gauvreau until 4:30 a.m., and Bogart took the 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. shift yesterday.

Bogart said Gauvreau was in good spirits when they spoke, but he had been having a hard time coping after the drowning of twin toddlers in a pool at their Lynnfield home last month. Gauvrea was on duty the Saturday morning the two girls died.

“That was devastating,’’ Bogart said. “This is a happy ending for now.’’

Although Gauvreau is not yet “out of the woods,’’ he seems to be feeling better aside from some sore ribs, Bogart said. He will probably be in the hospital a few weeks and could have surgery.

Gauvreau is unmarried and has no children, but his mother lives in the area and has stayed by his side. Neither Gauvreau nor his mother was available for comment.

Bogart said Gauvreau is a dedicated firefighter who worked about 20 hours a week on top of his full-time job at Cataldo Ambulance Service. He had recently appeared on an episode of ABC’s reality show “Boston Med.’’

“He eats, sleeps, and breathes this paramedic stuff,’’ Bogart said, pausing to arrange for Gauvreau to have a laptop during his hospital stay.

Feinberg said Gauvreau takes his job “very personally,’’ but he also “is a strong practitioner of firehouse humor.’’

Firehouse humor is “very dry, oftentimes very sarcastic, and everybody is at its mercy,’’ Feinberg said.

Gauvreau rides a fire-engine red Harley-Davidson Firefighter Special Edition on road trips for charity as a member of the firefighter motorcycle group, the Red Knights, said Lynnfield Firefighter Kim McGonnell.

And she, too, said he is known for making co-workers laugh.

“He’s serious when he’s supposed to be serious and kids when he’s supposed to kid — and sometimes when he’s not supposed to kid,’’ McGonnell said. “He makes it better here.’’