Deborah Lander and Addison Hosea are finishing up a round of drinks and appetizers at Jonathan at Gratz Park when Lander stops the waiter.
"See this guy?" she asks the waiter, referring to Hosea. "I was dead on the sidewalk, and he saved my life. Literally dead. My heart had stopped. I wasn't breathing, and he saved my life."
That wasn't exactly what the waiter expected to hear from a diner, but his first comment is the key to the story: "CPR?"
Shortly after Lander collapsed in cardiac arrest on the sidewalk on Upper Street nearly a year ago, Hosea ran over and started administering CPR, as did another person. Doctors said it saved Lander's life.
Hosea spent much of the next year wondering whether the woman he and a few others had worked on until paramedics arrived had survived. Then on Jan. 4, the Herald-Leader published an article about Lander and her new and outspoken advocacy for CPR.
Hosea and his wife quickly connected the dots: A woman named Deborah, who had collapsed on Upper Street on the way to a performance of University of Kentucky Opera Theatre's production of Falstaff.
Later that day, he sent an email to Lander, a viola professor at UK. Since then, the two have become fast friends, reveling in mutual friends, a mutual love of music and a mutual advocacy for CPR training.
"I didn't do it so people would be proud of me," Hosea said of helping Lander. "It wasn't like I was making a piece of art. This was something that needed to be done, and I happened to be the one to do it, along with the other fellow that was hands-on."
Hosea and a person who has not come forward worked for about 10 minutes applying chest compressions to keep Lander's blood and oxygen flowing until an ambulance arrived.
Nearly a year later, Hosea was stunned not only to hear that the woman had survived, but that doctors credited their work with keeping Lander alive and making a full recovery.
In contacting Lander, his initial desire was to remain publicly anonymous and just communicate with her. But he decided to go public to make the point that he was able to act that day simply because he knew what to do.
"In conjunction with another company whose building we share, we had offered a CPR class for our employees," says Hosea, who works for Box Lake Networks, a Winchester-based information technology company. "For a couple years, I had taken this class, never expecting to need it. It was just one of those 'Gee, I think I ought to do this' things.
"You hope you never have to use it, but I wanted to know what to do and not be afraid of it."
And training, Lander, Hosea and experts say, is important to dispel some misconceptions and update previous practices. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, for instance, no longer is recommended. Continuous chest compressions are essential to keeping blood, oxygen and other nutrients flowing. And the chest compressions need to be firm, even if they break ribs, which probably will happen if CPR is done right.
While working on Lander, Hosea says, he noticed some things like sporadic breaths and spasms that might lead people unfamiliar with cardiac arrest to think the patient is fine when he or she really isn't and needs continued CPR.
Hosea also says repeatedly that it wasn't just him. Another person helped administer the physically demanding chest compressions during the 10 minutes it took the ambulance to arrive, and a third person with more recent CPR training helped direct them, including telling them that mouth-to-mouth was not necessary.
Hosea also learned that, if the victim is a stranger, the person who administers CPR might not find out how things turned out. Paramedics are concerned with getting the victim to the hospital, not taking names.
But making the connection has been important to Lander and Hosea, who has gotten to know several of her relatives via phone and email, including her 88-year-old father in Australia.
"It's been extraordinary because it's like having extra family now, and I know the rest of my family feels the same," Lander says. "Until you are in the position of having died and having someone save your life, you don't realize what an amazing thing it is.
"It's very hard to find the words to express what it means to meet the person who saved your life. The only reason you can meet them is because you're alive, because of them."
All involved acknowledge that not all stories will be like theirs. Hosea spent a year thinking Lander had probably died.
"Even if I had not survived, it's still a great story," Lander says of that mostly anonymous team that came together to save her. "That we had this exceptional outcome is all the better because we can promote CPR and have more stories like this."
Want to learn CPR?
For more information, call 1-877-242-4277 or go to Heart.org/eccclassconnector.
IF YOU GO
Central Kentucky Heart and Stroke Ball
What: 25th annual event celebrating work and accomplishments of the Central Kentucky chapters of the American Heart and American Stroke associations. Includes the story of cardiac arrest survivor Deborah Lander and performances by students in the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre.
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 16
Where: Lexington Center Bluegrass Ballroom, 400 W. Vine St.
Tickets: $200; go to Heart.org/lexingtonkyheartball.