CHARLOTTE, N.C. -– Most people go through life never facing the challenge of saving a life.
On Tuesday, an American Airlines employee got the airline’s Real American Hero Award for saving not just one, but two lives in separate incidents, on the same night at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Christofer Hatcu seemed a bit shy as a super hero-type cape was put around his shoulders at an award ceremony Tuesday at the airport.
Hatcu says he is no hero.
“I just helped someone who really needed help,” he said.
But Paul Gonnelli might disagree, saying he is alive because of what Hatcu did last January 22.
Gonnelli who is also an American employee was flying through Charlotte and was at the gate changing planes when he suffered cardiac arrest.
He doesn’t remember any of it but says he was told later that Hatcu, who was trained in CPR, jumped right in to help him.
“There was a lot of people around,” he says he was told. “Everybody was on their phones yelling for help, and he knew exactly what to do.”
When Courtney Martinson from MEDIC arrived, he took over, but says there is no question Gonnelli lived because of what Hatcu did.
“Bystander CPR is absolutely the most important thing when it comes to a cardiac arrest,” said Martinson.
That would seem like the end of the story, but it's not.
It was about to play out again with another person at the airport having a heart attack.
Hatcu recalled the moment saying, “I did not believe it. They said there was another heart attack ten gates down. I said, ‘No way. This never happens.’”
Hatcu ran down to that gate and for the second time that night helped save a life because he knew CPR.
During the ceremony to thank him, both Hatcu and Gonnelli said they wished more people would take the time to learn CPR.
“Everybody really needs to know about CPR because you never know when you are going to need it and when you can help save somebody’s life,” said Gonnelli.