Living life in color

  • George Dakin of Phillipston and Austin Davis in Hyannis at their first meeting in 2017. Contributed photo

Published: 12/6/2021 1:33:45 PM
Modified: 12/6/2021 1:33:16 PM

George Dakin of Phillipston is lucky — lucky to be alive. He celebrates two birthdays. He turned 4 on Aug. 7, and 68 on Dec. 8, and the story behind these birthdays is an incredible one. He compares it to the children’s story — “The Wizard of Oz.”

It all began on Aug. 7, 2017. Dakin and his wife, Geraldine, had traveled from Phillipston to Hyannis to visit their daughter in Nantucket. He dropped Geraldine off at the ferry office to purchase tickets to the island, and proceeded to the parking lot to park the car and then rejoin her, their usual routine. However, the usual routine didn’t occur, but a life-changing one did.

On his way back to the ferry, he had a massive heart attack and collapsed on the sidewalk in front of a transitional residence for people with no home.

A staff person doing outside chores saw him and yelled for someone to call 911. Everyone in the house knew something awful had happened, including Austin Davis, who had recently taken a refresher CPR (cardiopulmonary resusitation) course. He rushed outside and relieved a person who had started doing chest compressions.

Davis worked steadily. He said, “Someone told me to stop because George wasn’t responding, but I remembered they told us in the CPR course to keep going until the paramedics came. For me, there was no clock. I just kept going, hoping help would arrive.”

Davis had been doing CPR for 10 minutes when the paramedics arrived and took over with the “thumper,” a machine that does CPR. They loaded George into the ambulance and off to the hospital with him still not responding. Austin went back into the house thinking, “We tried real hard ... I’m so sorry.”

In the meantime, Geraldine heard sirens. The ferry left. What to do? She called her daughter, who called the hospital and learned that her dad was there. Then she called the ferry office to ask if someone could take her mother to the hospital. A policeman quickly responded.

When she got to the hospital, she was told his LAD artery was 100% blocked, a “widow maker.” He was in surgery having a stent put in the blocked artery. The hospital explained that he had no heartbeat for 28 minutes; it would be a miracle if he survived, and if he did survive, he would likely have brain damage. But, a miracle did happen. George survived and his healthy brain survived, too, though he didn’t regain consciousness for three days.

The first thing on the agenda for Geraldine and her daughter was to find the hero who had saved his life and thank him. Their news brought shouts of “He’s alive!” throughout the house. Many weeks later, after Dakin had recovered, he called the house to say he wanted to come for a visit to meet Austin and express gratitude to him and all the residents for their support. George made arrangements for a big barbecue. It was an emotional day filled with thanksgiving.

Dakin and his family met Davis, 57, at a time in his life when he needed a good, supportive friend. George had needed him; now Austin needed George.

George and his family helped him find work and get a car. Today, Austin has a job, (“I like working,” he says.) and his own apartment. He said, “I never expected anything in return. Helping was just a part of life.” When asked how this event affected his life, Davis said his view on life has changed.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>You can be a blessing to others.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Don’t take life for granted.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Life can change in an instant.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Don’t waste time.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Be more productive.

<sbull value="sbull"><text xmlns="urn:schemas-teradp-com:gn4tera"></text></sbull>Enjoy life more.

George and Austin have maintained a close relationship and Austin has become part of the family. He said, “George is like a big brother to me and I enjoy having all the nieces and nephews.”

George likens his story to “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The movie starts in black and white and when Dorothy gets to Oz, it changes to color.” That’s how George views his life. It started in black and white with a hectic profession. Life was all work. He was an architect and worked 7 days a week. After his near-death experience, Dakin’s perspective changed. “These last four years are my years in color. These are bonus years. I take time to relax, to appreciate and enjoy things, everything, even waking up in the morning. I think about all I would have missed ... time with my seven grandchildren, including a new one.”

His mission has been to encourage people to take the CPR course. He made arrangements for it to be taught at the retirement community where he winters in Florida and many attended.

George’s work on earth was not done on Aug. 7, 2017. He had lives to save. He saved Austin, and if people take the CPR course, many more may be saved.

Make every year a bonus year and remember to live life in color.

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