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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A man from Old Orchard Beach is thanking the paramedics who helped keep him alive on October 30th when he went into sudden cardiac arrest at an eye exam in Portland.

Robert Nannay shook the hands of the members of Portland Fire Department Ladder 3 on Saturday, thanking them for their quick action.

According to the American Heart Association, only 8% of patients who suffer sudden cardiac arrests survive;a number that sparked a change in protocol for EMT's throughout the state. As of last December, instead of transporting a patient suffering from cardiac arrest, EMTs are now required to stay on scene and do CPR for a solid 20 minutes - the idea being that consistent CPR is what gets a heart beating again, and that's nearly impossible in a moving ambulance.

Since the protocol change, Portland says their survival rate of cardiac arrest patients has increased from 4% to 17%.

What also may have helped Nannay is that his eye doctor's assistant immediately started giving him CPR. Paramedics say every minute counts in a cardiac arrest, so bystanders are crucial when someone goes into cardiac arrest. They urge everyone to brush up on their CPR skills. Some towns and cities offer classes, you can also watch helpful videos and practice your skillson the AMA website.

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