Miami-Dade County

Back from the dead: Tree-trimmer shares story of surviving electric jolt

Anthony Toledo receives a trauma survivor award from Kendall Regional Medical Center trauma surgeon Mark Cockburn on Tuesday.
Anthony Toledo receives a trauma survivor award from Kendall Regional Medical Center trauma surgeon Mark Cockburn on Tuesday. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Anthony Toledo went to work on Nov. 6, much like any other day. The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital.

“I was tree-trimming,” he said, “and I had an accident.”

Toledo hit a power line on the job near South Miami and went into cardiac arrest. It didn’t look good.

When the fire-rescue crew arrived, the tree-trimmer wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

Basically, Anthony Toledo was dead.

But on Tuesday, Toledo was very much alive, speaking about his experience and meeting his rescuers for the first time.

“It’s really rare in our career that we get feedback like this,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Scott Tracy, who was on the scene the day of the accident. “That we actually get to meet somebody that we save.”

When the crew found Toledo in bad shape that day, they immediately started pounding on his chest to get his heart going.

“After 10 minutes of CPR and shocking his heart three times, we got a pulse back,” Tracy said. “His color started coming back and he basically came back to life.”

Tracy said that his team was in the area when they got the call, allowing them to get to Toledo quickly and saving his life.

After getting a pulse, Toledo was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he was treated by Dr. Mark Cockburn, a trauma surgeon.

Although his blood pressure and pulse were stable, Toledo came into the hospital with low neurological function.

“He did not move anything, open his eyes, or see anything,” Cockburn said.

Surgeons assessed further and then started something called a cool ice protocol, infusing a catheter with saline to cool down his body. That generally slows swelling of the brain and allows blood to start flowing again.

“It’s really a team effort and education that really saved Mr. Toledo,” Cockburn said.

Toledo is one of the lucky ones. Fewer than 10 percent of people are revived following this kind of full cardiac arrest. He said that he didn’t see lights or have any near-death experience, and remembers nothing other than trimming a tree that day.

He was in the hospital for about a week and had a quick recovery.

Toledo, a 46-year-old Kendall father and grandfather, is back to work. He said the near-death experience taught him he needs to take extra precaution when on the job.

“I don’t take a lot of things for granted anymore,” he said.

The firefighters and paramedics said Toledo was a lucky man. Tracy said it’s important for people to learn CPR.

“It takes an hour and you may be able to save somebody's life.”

Tracy said that meeting Toledo allowed him and his team to see the effects of their work.

“It’s really an honor,” Tracy said.