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McMinn County EMT brought back to life by coworkers

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MCMINN COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

Doctors call Tyler Johnson a "living miracle." The McMinn County EMT died recently while on the job, but his fellow medics were able to jump in and bring him back to life.

Tyler, 24, is trained to save other people's lives. But after his heart stopped one night last month, his life was the one needing saved.

He's an EMT for AMR in McMinn County, does crossfit and eats relatively healthy. But his health problems were much bigger than anyone could've imagined.

Tyler's fresh scars serve as a reminder of the quadruple bypass emergency surgery he survived last month.

"I was working my normal 24-hour shift," he recalled. "I had felt great all day."

In March, Tyler was horsing around with another EMT at the station, when he suddenly became lightheaded.

"I started feeling dizzy, and my partner asked me if i was OK," he said. "The last thing I remember was saying no, not really... and I went down."

"I knew he had a problem," said Tyler's EMT partner, Ashley Bryan. "He started turning blue. That's when I grabbed him and threw him into the floor, because I knew that we were about to have to start CPR."

Tyler's parents were home that night. They're a family of first responders, and heard the emergency call come over the radio.

"We always leave a radio on, especially if the boys are working," said Eric Johnson, Tyler's dad. "You could tell by the tone of his voice that something was wrong."

"I jumped up, got dressed, and I was saying, it was Tyler," remembered Tyler's mom, Erica.

That's when the family got a phone call from Tyler's boss at the station.

"He said, it's Tyler. It's bad. He's not breathing, and he doesn't have a pulse," Eric said.

Back at the station, a team of EMTs were racing the clock, trying to revive one of their own.

"The whole time I was praying," said Tyler's fellow paramedic Lance McConkey.

But all of the crew's equipment was inside the truck, over 50 feet away. They had to shuttle all of the supplies inside the station.

"As I'm looking down at him and he's blue, I'm just thinking, this is not how it's supposed to end," Bryan recalled. "This is not what you're supposed to be, and this is not how it's supposed to happen."

That minute seemed like an eternity. Tyler finally took one deep, gasping breath.

"You could almost feel the hand of God come down and touch him," said McConkey.

Tyler remembers waking up on the stretcher on the way to the hospital.

"I keep reminding myself how blessed I am," Tyler said.

Eric is thankful his son survived.

"If it wasn't for God's mercy, and the knowledge that these medics have, he wouldn't be sitting with us here today," he said, tearfully.

Tyler had tears in his eyes thinking about his own friends saving his life.

"(The paramedic team) did an awesome job," said Tyler. "It's different when it's one of your own. I'm just so thankful."

Doctors say several major vessels in Tyler's young heart were 70-100% blocked.

The 24-year-old urges anyone with small symptoms, even heartburn, to go get checked. He's proof it really does mean life or death. Tyler has been taking a break from work while he recovers at home, but said he can't wait to get back in the ambulance so he can help other people.

In the meantime, he hopes his story can help save someone else's life and bring more awareness to heart disease in people of all ages.

Click here for a list of warning signs that could help save your life.

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