James Scahill

Age: 52
Save Date: 9/21/2003
Activity: In parking lot

Jim Scahill was a healthy, robust 52- year-old who was extremely active in outdoor activities. He was a second-term County Commissioner who loved his job and was so active that one of his often used phrases was, "I eat stress for lunch and dinner and enjoy the flavor."

On September 21, 1999, a cold and rainy day, Jim went to a ground breaking ceremony with some colleagues. On the way back from the ceremony, Jim told his friends that he wasn't feeling well, but he refused to go to the hospital as they suggested he do because he thought it would look bad--it was an election year. No, he just wanted to go home. They pulled into the parking lot and Jim started to make his way to his truck. On the way, he dropped dead in sudden cardiac arrest.

Within seconds, a local realtor found him and called for help. The chain of survival was initiated, 9-1-1 was called and CPR was started. There was a kink in the chain, however. The ambulance that was dispatched was on another call. The Director of Hose Co. #6 realized that the dispatched ambulance would not make it in time and jumped in another vehicle to bring a defibrillator to the scene. After the third shock, Jim sat straight up with such force that he broke through the head and shoulder straps of the backboard.

After being stabilized at a nearby hospital, Jim was transported by helicopter to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. He went home five days later.

It took Jim a year before he felt comfortable talking about the out of body experience he had during his cardiac arrest... He found himself sitting on the edge of the Administration Building looking down on his body lying in the parking lot with many people around. After watching the resuscitation attempts, he heard a voice behind him say, "It's time for you to go down there." He felt two small hands push him off the building from where he re-entered his body.


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