‘I have unfinished work’: Va. man thanks EMTs, friends who brought him back from the brink

Frank Kampmann said thanks seemed inadequate, 'but it's all I have.' (WTOP/John Domen)

WASHINGTON — Frank Kampmann, of Remington, Virginia, stood Friday morning in front of his workplace and fought back tears of gratitude. His wife, Denise, and his co-worker Paul Crook, were facing the same struggle, but it was much better than it was five months ago to the day, when Paul struggled to keep Frank alive.

On the morning of Jan. 4, Kampmann collapsed while shoveling snow in the loading dock of the building he and Paul worked at on the 900 block of K Street Northwest.

“I was trying to go out the loading dock door,” said Crook, “and I was like ‘Why isn’t this door opening up?’ I pushed the door open and I saw his tan pants.”

At that point, Kampmann was on the ground with no pulse, and he wasn’t breathing. While a security guard called 911, Paul called his wife, Jennifer Simms, a 911 call center supervisor in Prince William County.  She guided him through CPR until medics could arrive.

“I thought I heard him breathing; she said ‘No, that’s agonal (abnormal, inadequate) breathing,’” said Crook. “She said, ‘Keep pushing!’”

Crook admitted Friday that when Kampmann was taken away in an ambulance, he really wasn’t sure his colleague would make it.

Dr. Robert Holman, the medical director for DC Fire and EMS, said it wasn’t any easier for the medics who took over CPR.  They shocked him “seven times with a defibrillator; at least once a pulse returned, only to disappear again,” he said.

Kampmann, who returned to work last month, admitted he wasn’t supposed to be able to ever stand up there.

“You don’t go from being clinically dead for 45 minutes to an hour,” said Kampmann, “to giving life back again. There’s obviously a purpose, so I have unfinished work.”

Before he handed out Cardiac Arrest Save Coins to everyone who helped bring him back, Kampmann, standing at a podium, turned and addressed the crew who stood behind him.

“I know the words ‘Thank you’ are so empty,” Kampmann said, fighting back tears. “But it’s all I have. Thank you to each and every one of you. All of you are my heroes. All of you. Thank you.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up