NEW ORLEANS — There was something at the French Quarter Festival Friday that you usually don't see. It was a special reunion of first responders and a tourist who would not be alive today without them.
Lawrence Hansen of Cape Cod came back to festival this year with his wife, not only to celebrate New Orleans culture, music, and food, but to celebrate his life.
"This whole thing today is not about me. I went down and because of all these people that were there that saved me, I am here today. And I just want to give thanks to all those people that helped out," said Hansen.
Two years ago, Hansen was at the French Quarter Festival and suffered a cardiac arrest. It just so happened that an off-duty first responder from LaPlace was also in town enjoying the festival as well. He began CPR.
"At four minutes to 3 p.m., he fell down, so that's when we started working on him and at 3:22 we were packaging him up put him in the ambulance and he was alive, which is amazing to start with," said Martin Schlesinger, the first responder from Laplace.
It also just so happened that a minister was in town at the festival, right there as well. He began to pray.
"We laid hands on him and spoke the scripture of healing, and death shall not come upon him, that he shall live and fulfill the promise that God has for his life and his family and his children," said Mario Ramos, founder and senior pastor of Build the Foundation Ministries.
That's when many men and women from the New Orleans Fire Department, New Orleans EMS and the National Park Service answered the call of duty they have dedicated their lives to.
EMS personnel used a LUCAS machine to make sure Larry had constant chest compressions and National Park Service workers used an AED, or automated external defibrillator, to shock his heart back into a pumping rhythm.
Two years later, at the reunion were hugs, tears and a special medal presentation.
"I'm overwhelmed. I'm just so grateful for all these people, for the prayers, for Martin for stepping in, for the machine," said Hansen.
Along with the 'thank yous' was some humor from a man who had no pulse for an quite some time.
"(I saw) no lights. Nothing. I didn't see my first dog. Nothing. I woke up two days later and said to my wife, 'Am I dreaming?'
Schlesinger said he was about to leave the French Quarter Festival that day to go boil 800 pounds of crawfish for an event, but at the last minute he just happened to decided to stay a little longer.