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Phoenix man thanks firefighters for saving his life

Robert DeWayne (center) is surrounded by firefighters from Phoenix Engine Company 37. (Bob McClay/KTAR)

A Phoenix man is thankful he's alive this holiday season, and he was able to thank the firefighters who saved his life on Tuesday.

In 2010, Robert DeWayne was drinking with friends when his heart stopped following an asthma attack.

"From what they say, I was flatlined for about six minutes," said DeWayne. "They came and responded on the scene and brought me back to life basically."

Firefighters and paramedics from Phoenix Engine 37 and Rescue 27 responded to the scene. They used the latest in EMS technology, including hypothermic treatment, to save DeWayne's brain as they revived him. He was rushed to Paradise Valley Hospital, where he was in an induced coma for 11 days.

DeWayne said he doesn't remember anything until he was well enough to leave the hospital.

Phoenix Fire Captain Brad Parks said firefighters were just doing their job.

"Everybody knew what their roles and responsibilities were, and they performed them flawlessly," he said. "He's the reason we do what we do: to help people."

DeWayne continued living a troubled life after he got out of the hospital. His addiction to drugs and alcohol continued until February of this year, when he was arrested on a warrant for failing to pay child support, and served six months in jail.

Now, DeWayne said he's accepted Christ and is born again. He has been sober since his arrest. Now out of jail, DeWayne works as a mechanic at Jiffy Lube and he said his life is "beautiful. Everything is great."

DeWayne said he owes his life to the firefighters.

"People don't recognize what these people do every day," he said. "They're saving people's lives every day, and I felt it was my duty, as a patient of theirs, to let them know how much I appreciate what they did for me."

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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