Survival Coin recipient, neighbors honored in Sterling Heights

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 25, 2019

 Brian Parker, from Sterling Heights, receives the 19th Survival Coin from the Sterling Heights Fire Department.

Brian Parker, from Sterling Heights, receives the 19th Survival Coin from the Sterling Heights Fire Department.

Screenshot provided by Sterling Heights Television


STERLING HEIGHTS — Sometimes, help is closer than it seems, and a neighbor becomes a  good Samaritan.

That’s what happened to Sterling Heights resident Brian Parker, who suffered a cardiac arrest in his front yard May 19. He was rescued due to the swift action of neighbors, the Sterling Heights Fire Department and hospital staff.

“It’s another story of teamwork, and this one hits close to home for me because it was literally right around the corner from my block,” Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin said.

Sterling Heights awarded its 19th Survival Coin to Parker at an Oct. 15 City Council meeting. The Fire Department started giving out Survival Coins in 2016 to celebrate survivors of cardiac events, as well as the rescuers’ heroic efforts.

According to Martin, Parker collapsed after he “had just finished cutting his grass and he was applying some fertilizer to his lawn.”

In response, neighbors called 911 and did CPR. Firefighter paramedics arrived in about 3 1/2 minutes to take over the rescue by continuing CPR, administering medicine and performing two defibrillations. The combined actions reportedly restarted Parker’s heart, and rescuers transported him to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital. He since has left the hospital and made a full recovery, city officials said.

Martin said the Fire Department has helped 66 people who suffered cardiac arrests walk out of the hospital without neurological deficits since July 2014.

He credited several members of his department for their rescue work in saving Parker’s life, including firefighter Ryan Delaney, fire engine operator Ryan Sears, firefighter Joshua Kiekbusch and  Lt. Vincent Schwartz.

Martin also honored Parker’s neighbors, Andrea Trombley and Matt Zelensky, for assisting him, adding that both recently received an Exceptional Civilian Service Award. Mayor Pro Tem Liz Sierawski, who has a nursing background, encouraged the public to follow the rescuers’ example.

“The most important thing to take away from this, to all the residents, is that yes, we need to learn CPR,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a lifesaving skill.”

Councilman Michael Radtke also wished the best for Parker.

“We have a Fire Department that’s worth supporting because it’s saving lives every day,” he said.

Mayor Michael Taylor thanked everyone for their role in saving Parker’s life, including Zelensky and Trombley.

“It starts with residents and neighbors like the two next to you, and being able to snap into action quickly, and our dispatchers and our police and firefighters are really brave and do a heroic job here in the city of Sterling Heights,” he said.

After the meeting, Parker, 61, told the Sentry that he appreciates the Survival Coin as well as everyone involved in saving his life, from the neighbor who administered CPR to the paramedics and the Fire Department who “were great about it.”

He said it took about three months for him to recover from the cardiac event, adding that the hospital’s treatment included cooling him down to prevent damage.

“Only 5 percent of people survive this,” he said. “I feel kind of lucky about that.”

Find out more about the Sterling Heights Fire Department by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2950.