Military vet who suffered near-fatal heart attack reunites with man who saved his life


It’s the ‘Miracle at the gas station’ and a story for the ages of one couple married 52 years

CHICAGO — Going to the gas station these days can be a painful experience, but it was just what the doctor ordered for Pat and Tom Hamilton. 

“We were working around the house. Pat said, ‘Are you feeling OK?’ I said, ‘No, I’m not. I really don’t feel good at all.’” 

Retired nurse Pat Hamilton insisted they both go to the emergency room. While driving to Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital, fate would stop them in their tracks. Wife Pat soon realized Tom was slumped over and was unconscious.  

“A lot of people turned and looked and then I had a miracle worker who was sitting over there by the building in his car and he ran over immediately,” Pat Hamilton said.

SEE ALSO: Athletic trainer performs CPR, saves student who collapsed at Geneva school dance

Enter the good Samaritan: Tom Paladin.  

“I just think to myself, ‘What is she yelling about and why is she blaring her horn?’” he recalled.

Paladin is a former military man well-versed in CPR. He realized Tom Hamilton had no pulse and was unresponsive, so he began chest compressions.  

Pat and Tom Hamilton (Photo: WGN)

“Had to be a good five or six minutes, no pulse, no respiration whatsoever. I started CPR again and another three minutes went by or so, and he took a gasp, real shallow, real short,” Paladin said.  

Paramedics arrived to take Tom Hamilton away.

“After that, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna ever hear anything; the outcome, what happened?” Paladins said.

Tom Hamilton coded out three more times in the ambulance. Once stabilized, doctors at Palos Hospital inserted an impella pump in his heart, but they were still very skeptical. Fortunately, Tom Hamilton regained consciousness after eight days.        

Sometime later, Pat Hamilton circled back to the gas station. The man behind the counter wondered what had happened to her husband.

“I’m happy to say, thanks to a man that was here, he saved his life,” Pat revealed. “I said, “I only wish I could thank him.’ He said, ‘Oh, that’s interesting; he only lives a block away. Let me give him a call.’”

And with that Tom, Tom and Pat have become fast friends.

“If he wasn’t there, [Tom] would be dead right now,” Pat Hamilton said. “I know that in my heart because I know enough medicine that unless you come in immediately and start CPR, you’ve lost the patient.”

Tom Paladin talks with Pat and Tom Hamilton (Photo: WGN)

“I look so forward to being with her. Our day is complete when we’ve either had a nice cocktail together or a nice meal together and she’s done everything to keep me enlightened, to keep me actually looking forward to getting out of the hospital and being back home. So we’re just about each other,” Tom Hamilton added.  

An interesting tidbit: Tom Paladin’s father and Tom Hamilton served on the same Navy ship just a few years apart. 

“My dad served on the same aircraft carrier as Tom and got out in 1969, one year before Tom went on the ship,” Paladin said.

For her part, Pat believes there was divine intervention at play. 

“The miracle at the gas station,” she said. “because God put that Man right where I needed him,”

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