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Quick action, cold comfort heal a heart

Bernie Phillips does not remember seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in a movie theater the first week in January. He does not remember celebrating New Year's Eve with his family and friends, or a family trip he took in the following days.

The first thing he remembered from Dec. 31 on was waking up in a hospital bed at Albany Medical Center seven days later with no recollection of how he got there.

The 48-year-old Colonie resident knows of what happened to him only through the accounts of others.

"At about 5 a.m., my wife noticed my breathing wasn't right," said Phillips, a physics teacher at Schenectady High School.

Phillips said he was asleep and his wife, a science teacher, knew there was something wrong. So she picked him up, laid him on the floor, and began performing CPR.

At 5:15 on Saturday, Jan. 3, Agnes Phillips called 911, after being unable to revive her husband, and by 5:20, Phillips said, the First Responders were at his home.

It was then that the Colonie Emergency Medical Services team defibrillated Phillips five times in an attempt to get it beating once again.

"They didn't actually get my heart beating until 5:46," he said.

Once stabilized, Phillips was transported to Albany Medical Center with what Colonie EMS Medical Director Dr. Michael Dailey called ROSC, return of spontaneous circulation.

Dr. Dailey took care of Phillips at the hospital.

"Basically, he came into us completely unresponsive, in a condition that we look at as potentially futile," Dailey said.

From there, Dailey said the doctors at Albany Medical Center had two options: to put Phillips on a ventilator and let fate take its course, or to try a treatment that had never been completed before in the Capital District that involved cooling Phillips' body to slow down the blood flow to his brain.

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