(OSLO, Minn.) -- A Minnesota man has a 29-year-old mail carrier to thank for saving his life. Rick Hendrickson, 66, was outside his Oslo, Minn., home when he had a heart attack and fell to the ground with no pulse. His son flagged down the first person he saw: the postal worker who happened to be driving by to deliver the day’s mail.
“He called me over, I called 9-1-1 and started doing chest compressions,” Jake Craik, the substitute mail carrier who was passing the Hendricksons’ home that day, told ABC News. “At the moment, it just kind of clicked and I went into action.”
Craik said he was “pretty nervous” at first, but was able to complete the chest compressions until emergency responders arrived.
“That’s pretty much all I did,” he said, adding that his wife talked him into taking a CPR class last winter. “I guess it never hurts for somebody to know CPR because you never know when you’ll need to use it.”
Hendrickson spent 11 days in the hospital because doctors also needed to fix his clogged artery, but he is now home, according to WDAZ, ABC News’ affiliate in Grand Forks, N.D.
“He did it properly, too,” Hendrickson told WDAZ. “I could have been a vegetable.”
About 715,000 people have heart attacks every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But according to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans “feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency” because they don’t know or feel comfortable doing CPR.
“Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander,” according to the American Heart Association.
Craik will be covering the same route this coming Saturday, so he’ll be passing Hendrickson’s house for the first time since administering CPR, he said.
“I’m sure I’ll see him,” Craik said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio