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Mike Davis saw him fall. Mitch Johnston did the chest compressions. Angela Miller called 911. 

But in the end, Mike Murphy credits everyone at Burcham's Metal for working together to save his life that day in January when he collapsed in the buying yard of the scrap metal company at 3407 Pacific Blvd. SW.

"All these people are just amazing," said Murphy, 52, of Albany. "My angels saved me." 

Murphy, 52, works for Mike's Heating & Air Conditioning. When people replace various units, the business takes the old ones to Burcham's to scrap out the parts. That's part of Murphy's job, and he usually comes in a couple of times a week.

On this particular morning, shortly after 9 a.m. Jan. 22, Murphy had brought in a pickup pulling a trailer, both full of parts. He was unloading them when the world began to spin.

"I took two steps and boom, I don't remember anything," he said.

The rest of Burcham's employees will never forget, however. Davis, who was on the forklift, was at exactly the right place in the yard to glance Murphy's direction and see him topple. Johnston was near the scale, operating the software there, and he heard Davis say, "What's going on over there?"

Johnston turned and saw the upper half of Murphy's body on the ground. "Flat on his back, not really moving or anything."

Security video shows the two men racing to Murphy's aid. They were by his side in seconds.

Murphy's eyes were open and glazed and he wasn't breathing. Johnston checked for a pulse in his neck and couldn't find one, so he radioed the office to call 911. 

Here's the thing about Burcham's Metals: Owner Jay Burcham is a stickler for emergency procedures. All employees are trained in CPR and renew that training every two years. All of them know their jobs in case of an emergency, and all have said they're available to share their stories if other companies want to know how important that is.

"We made that decision many years ago," Burcham said. "You just stay on top of it." 

This particular morning, Johnston happened to be the closest employee to take on the job of chest compressions. Later he would recall worrying he wouldn't do it right, but in the moment, he didn't hesitate. 

"It felt like it went really quickly, but now looking back on it, it seemed like forever," Johnston said. "I remember thinking, 'Come on, EMTs, just get here.'" 

In the office, Angela Miller was making sure emergency responders were on their way. Then she left a message for Burcham, who was at a meeting and had silenced his phone, and called Murphy's company to make sure his managers and family members were in the loop. 

In the meantime, other Burcham's employees sprang into action. Two people were gone that day, but everyone else knew his part. Erik Roos went out to Pacific Boulevard to direct the Fire Department as personnel arrived. Davis and Mark Wagner got on forklifts to clear the area so paramedics would have easy access. Jay Poppleton ran for the automated external defibrillator. 

"A lot of credit goes to Jay (Burcham) in having us trained and having this done," Johnston said. "I'm so thankful that I kind of knew what to do." 

Murphy still wasn't breathing, just making occasional gasping noises while his limbs twitched. But Miller, who had come to monitor his vital signs, could feel Murphy's pulse in his wrist and neck every time Johnston pushed.

"I'm like, you're his pulse right now, keep on it," she said. 

It takes willingness as well as training, Burcham added, and his crew had that to spare. As Johnston drove his palms into Murphy's chest, both Miller and Wagner asked if he needed them to spell him. 

"You had a person who was next to you willing to step up," Burcham told Johnston.

It took five minutes from Miller's call for the paramedics to arrive. They took over briefly, but then asked Johnston to step back in so they could set up their own AED — an affirmation of his work, Burcham said.

It took two shocks to restart Murphy's heart, and another on the way to the hospital, the crew learned later. He spent some time in the emergency room at Samaritan Albany General Hospital, then was transferred to cardiac care at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, where he remained for the next five days.

That's where Johnston and Miller found him when they went to visit a few days later. The smiling man sitting in the recliner was nothing like the glassy-eyed body that had been lying motionless on the rough ground, Miller said. "He was completely all right. He was crying." 

The following Tuesday, when Murphy was released, he brought Burcham's a thank-you treat from his wife, Lori, who had wanted to express her gratitude as well. Asked what they liked, Miller and Johnston said, "Cheesecake," so Lori made two: one topped with cherries, one strawberries.

Firefighters expressed thanks, too. A few days following Murphy's collapse, they brought pizza to Burcham's and thanked them for acting so quickly. At the Feb. 14 meeting of the Albany City Council, Chief John Bradner honored each of the six employees who had been there that day with the department's challenge coin.

"We want to recognize six individuals that went above and beyond," Bradner told the audience. "They took action that ultimately ended up saving this individual's life."

Murphy is home now, off work and recovering from the ordeal. Effective CPR usually means broken ribs — he has fractures or full breaks in 12 — but he now has a pacemaker defibrillator that should keep him from experiencing cardiac arrest again.

Murphy said he's been on medication for several years to help cope with atrial fibrillation. This is the first time, however, that his heart simply stopped. 

Doctors told him it wasn't a case of clogged arteries. "They say your heart’s like a house: The walls are great, the plumbing's great; the electrical’s screwed up somehow," he said. "Really bizarre."

Murphy still isn't sure exactly what happened, but he has a theory. "It was just a perfect storm of adrenaline and too much caffeine that morning. Everything fell into place and my heart was going too fast and said, 'I'm going to reboot.' It stopped and then it didn’t start back up again."

Once the ribs heal, Murphy figures he'll be fine. In fact, were they not so sore, he'd be ready to go back to work now.

In the meantime, however, he's happy to sit back, relax and make the occasional visit to his "angels."

"I love every one of them," he said. "It was so organized. Everyone knew what they needed to do. ... It was second nature to them. Nobody panicked, everybody just did what they were supposed to do, and obviously it worked. I’m still here."


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