A Tulsa man whose heart stopped in a grocery store parking lot is doing all he can to thank the men and women who helped to save his life. He told News On 6 he wouldn’t be here to celebrate this Christmas without the Tulsa Fire Department.
"When the grandkids come over, they expect to see Christmas lights so that is my job to put them up," said Mike Latty.
There are Christmas gifts that go under the tree and then there is the gift Mike got this year.
"If not for them and God's grace, I wouldn't be here today," said Mike.
Firefighters around here call this guy Uncle Mike and there is a good reason for that - they helped save his life. Now he is up at the station showing them so much love, he feels like family.
"To be able to have someone who we have been fortunate enough to save, come in and actually build a relationship with him, with his family, it has been an overwhelming experience. It is a blessing," said Garnett Burkhalter with Tulsa Fire.
Mike's heart stopped. He said he was sitting in his car, waiting for his wife to come out of the grocery store. His next memory is two weeks later, waking up in the hospital.
"Came back out and I jumped in and I thought he had fell asleep. I am like, 'Hey,'" said Mike’s wife Sherrie.
Someone called 911, someone started CPR. Sherrie's world froze in front of her.
"Once the first responders got there and started working on him, there was nothing I could do they were doing their job. I needed God's help. So, I started calling people to pray," said Sherrie.
Firefighters worked on Mike for close to 20 minutes, they said he died for five. They never gave up. Mike spent weeks in the hospital. No one knew if he was going to make it, but one of the first things he did after getting to go home, was go back to meet the firefighters who saved his life.
"First thing I asked them is, 'Which one of y'all broke my ribs!?'" said Mike, laughing.
The relationship never stopped growing.
"Mike is the reason we all chose this job, was to be able to see things like that," said Chelsea Owens with Tulsa Fire. “There are guys who have been working 20 something years and have never seen that happen so for him to come walking into the station"
"We just don't get to see the results of most of the patients we run on," said Jordan Blount with Tulsa Fire, "Mike has reached out a bunch. It has been an overwhelming amount of appreciation from them."
"We are just excited to get to do the job we do,” said Stewart Andrew with Tulsa Fire.
"Thank God, that I am here. I could not receive a better present this Christmas season than to be here to celebrate with my wife and my family," said Mike. "To show the gratitude to the guys who made that possible."