Firefighter Son Saves Firefighter Dad's Life With CPR After Cardiac Arrest

A Washington firefighter has saved the life of one of his colleagues—a story made all the more extraordinary by the fact the second emergency worker was his own father.

Alex Rossi now wears a heart pin on his uniform awarded for saving someone with CPR—his dad, Spokane Fire Department firefighter of 29 years Mike Rossi.

The young Fire Distinct #10 firefighter told KHQ 06: "This [pin] was awarded to me from my district. They hand these pins out when someone saves someone with CPR.

"So they gave me this for saving my dad."

Alex Rossi was called upon to help his father in the early morning of December 27, 2021. The family had gathered on December 26 to celebrate Christmas and Mike Rossi had gone to bed before the rest of his family after opening presents and playing some games.

"I remember waking up on the floor. I thought I was having a work dream like I was working on a medical call," the veteran firefighter told KHQ 06. "Then I realized the perspective was all wrong."

Mike Rossi was suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. He added that his condition was surprising as he had no history of heart problems and had felt no pain in his chest.

"I have done chest compressions on tons of people. To have it done to me is such a shock... I had no symptoms before, I didn't feel any pain, and I have no heart history.

"That's the other thing—it was very much out of the blue. Very surprising."

Alex Rossi was awoken at 1 a.m. by his uncle. He said: I can sort of see as I'm walking down the hallway, my dad laying there. My mom is trying to do compressions.

"I do a quick assessment. I swapped into autopilot and just did the CPR I was trained to do. I'm still surprised I was able to do so because in my head I was like, 'This is my dad. I can't believe this is happening.'"

Alex Rossi continued to apply CPR until Missoula firefighters arrived. They took over using a technique called "Pit Crew CPR" adopted from the Spokane and Spokane Valley Fire Departments.

This method sees new people lined up and ready to swap out in a circular motion. Mike Rossi explains the benefits of the technique that may well have saved his life: "The effectiveness of the compressions can go down because it's very tiring. So we have guys lined up, ready to go, rotate out every two minutes, and that way it keeps the guys doing compressions fresh.

"It's very effective. It's been great."

Mike Rossi is now back at work as a firefighter/paramedic with a new pacemaker fitted.

He reflects on the fact that his life was saved by his son: "I think about Alex when he was a little baby and brought him home from the hospital and, you know, you're rocking this baby in your arms. Most people don't think, 'Oh yeah, one day this kid's going to save my life,'

It's the furthest thing from your mind. On so many levels, it just kind of blows my mind."

CPR
A stock image of man administering CPR. Firefighter Alex Rossi saved the life of a fellow firefighter and his own father after he suffered a sudden heart attack. Pixel_away/GETTY