NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - August 1 started out as a normal day at the gym for 75-year-old Bob Palm of Nacogdoches, and then something happened.
"I was doing my flyers with the dumbbells and just got started and down I went," Palm said.
Seconds before the collapse, Palm made eye contact through a glass office window with longtime friend Shannon McCollum.
"I was sitting in my office and Bob, at that point, he was shaking pretty bad, and he motioned me to come out, and I came around," Mccollum, a contract trainer at Anytime Fitness in Nacogdoches, said.
Palm's heart and breathing stopped. McCollum used her CPR knowledge to save her friend's life.
"I've had this certification for 34 years. I never had to use it, but as soon as I saw what happened, I knew exactly what I had to do. There was no hesitation because you're so prepared if it happens," McCollum said.
Palm had neither a stroke or heart attack. Atrial fibrillation, a common heart disorder referred to as AFib, was the silent culprit.
"As you get older the AFib has a tendency to increase. It happened, you know. Every now and then you feel great, and all of a sudden, your pulse rate goes down," Palm said.
The two friends encourage everyone to be CPR certified, particularly seniors.
"Seniors need to be certified because they're around each other the most, and as a general rule, those are the ones who have the most issues," McCollum said.
"I could be dead," Palm said, thankful his life was saved.
It's a thought Palm has had more than once. Several years ago, a cancer diagnosis revealed an artery 90-percent blocked, which led to bypass surgery. This latest brush with death strengthened an already strong faith. While coming to in the emergency room Palm was heard saying something that still resonates with McCollum.
Palm repeated what he can't remember, but others have told him he said over and over.
"Lord, open the door, let me in, or keep me here," Palm shared.
It wasn't his time. Today, Palm is on the mend. He's aware of gym-provided emergency devices worn around the neck, an AED if needed, and a 911 phone. And then there's his good friend.
"Bob? I'll always be watching him. I'll always be watching him," McCollum said.
Contact the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, your local hospital, physician, or the Piney Woods Area Health Education Center to find out about CPR classes in your area. Certification is also available online.