Man credits strangers for saving life after having heart attack at Christmas parade

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Thanks to the quick actions of strangers, a man who suffered a heart attack at the Nashville Christmas parade on Saturday is alive.  

Wade Payne was working his assignment as a photojournalist taking pictures of the parade when he went into cardiac arrest around 9 a.m.  

Payne told News 2 he felt light-headed and took a knee before he went into cardiac arrest near the First Baptist Church.  

“I heard someone say, ‘You ok?’ I remember saying no, and I woke up in the back of an ambulance,” Payne recalled.   

He said the next several minutes are a mystery to him.  

“Apparently a lot took place in the next six minutes after I said no, [I wasn’t ok],” he told News 2. 

According to medical officials, Payne is most likely alive today because an off-duty Vanderbilt nurse and Smyrna paramedic were in the crowd when the photojournalist hit the pavement. Parade watchers also knew an AED was inside the nearby church.  

“Right place at the right time. People knew what they were doing,” Payne said. “To say I’m grateful is an understatement.”  

He continued, “Whoever you are out there – I really do want to thank you, thank you, thank you. I know how close I came to dying. I’m Christian; I know where I’m going. I have no fear of dying. I think about the people around me and how it affected them more than it did me. Everyone else did the work; I just laid there.”  

On Monday, longtime Vanderbilt paramedic Keith Jackson visited with Payne. He told News 2 it’s an experience he doesn’t usually get to experience.  

“I think he was down for a few seconds. As soon as he dropped, they checked him and he was pulseless. They did three rounds of CPR and brought out the AED and shocked him one time,” Jackson explained.  

Payne underwent bypass surgery in 2010. He told News 2 he is expected to be released from the hospital soon, but he will need further treatment.  

He said he also encourages everyone to learn CPR and to become familiar with an AED.

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