South King Fire honors citizen heroes for saving lives

South King Fire recently recognized heroes in three life-or-death situations from 2012.

Jo Ann and Dan deLeon are pictured with King County Sheriff Deputy David Lyon at an awards ceremony Tuesday at South King Fire and Rescue’s station on South 312th Street. Jo Ann saved her husband’s life last summer when he suffered a heart attack.

When the 4-year-old boy stopped talking and went unconscious, his mother sought a neighbor for help.

Lina Yefimchuk had just finished a CPR class the week before. The boy was turning blue and suffering seizures. Yefimchuk knew right away that he was choking. She performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged a piece of sandwich from his throat.

“He came alive,” she said, describing the moment she cleared the boy’s airway.

Anatoliy and Oksana Korets, who live near Five Mile Lake in unincorporated King County, are grateful Yefimchuk was home to save little Brian’s life last July.

“We’re blessed to have each other next door,” said Anatoliy Korets after his neighbor was honored Tuesday by South King Fire and Rescue. “Thank God it was one of those times she was home.”

South King Fire also recognized heroes in two other life-or-death situations from 2012.

On Sept. 22, Buckley resident Donald Ymer was eating lunch at Old Country Buffet in Federal Way when he noticed a man choking.

Ymer had learned the Heimlich maneuver years before in middle school. The process came flooding back to his mind, and he immediately knew what to do.

After Ymer performed the technique for roughly a minute, a potato shot out of the 70-year-old man’s mouth, and all was well again. Ymer, 18, was in Federal Way that day on a tree removal job. The Mirror and South King Fire were unable to contact the man whose life was saved.

On July 30, Jo Ann and Dan deLeon were working in their yard when he collapsed and went unconscious. Jo Ann deLeon called 911 and administered CPR for at least 20 minutes. The effort to keep her husband alive was exhausting.

“I just felt all alone,” she said. “Everything happened so fast.”

King County Sheriff Deputy David Lyon arrived on the scene and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on Dan deLeon. The combination of CPR and the AED were enough to save his life. Lyon complimented Jo Ann deLeon on her CPR skills, and both of them were honored by Linda Cully from King County EMS during Tuesday’s ceremonies at South King Fire’s station on S. 312th St.

After medics arrived, however, Dan deLeon was comatose for four days. Doctors told his wife he might end up brain dead. An experimental “freezing” treatment for cardiac arrest patients ultimately saved his life, said the 61-year-old resident of unincorporated King County.

Seven months later, Dan deLeon jokes that his wife beat him up. He remembers nothing from the incident. In fact, after the heart attack, he somehow forgot that he smoked cigarettes. Before his heart attack, he was a daily smoker. Since then, he hasn’t craved tobacco at all, and his recovery continues.

“I’m just lucky to be alive,” he said.


(Pictured: Lina Yefimchuk, right, used the Heimlich maneuver to save 4-year-old Brian, shown here with his parents Anatoliy and Oksana Korets.)

(Pictured: Buckley resident Donald Ymer used the Heimlich maneuver to save a life.)

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