CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- When something goes wrong, it's often a first responder who saves someone's life.
But in an ironic twist in Florida, it was a regular person who saved former Cheektowaga firefighter Bill Malcolm when he had a heart attack.
“We're all a pretty tight-knit group of people, and Bill was a member her for 30 years. He joined back in 1972,” said Hy-View Fire Chief Dan Hatfield.
Hatfield still remembers working alongside Bill Malcolm many years ago. Malcolm, a former Hy-View chief himself, dedicated his life to firefighting and saving lives.
"He got his MET, which was a medical emergency technician back in the day, and I trained under him, and I did CPR alongside him probably five times or more, and he probably did it many more times and saved a lot of lives,” Hatfield said.
A couple of years ago, Malcolm relocated to Florida, but because of his long career in Cheektowaga, many people at Hy-View have fond memories of him.
Recently, he had a heart attack at a local country club, and it was a veteran employee of the golf course who likely saved his life.
“To have somebody that's not trained do CPR on him...that's pretty ironic that it helped save his life,” said Hatfield.
Andy Cox, who has worked at the golf course for 19 years, started with CPR, and when that didn't work, he used a defibrillator until paramedics arrived.
That's according to WINK-TV in Fort Meyers, which originally reported on Cox as a local hero.
"I just kind of just got down there and just did it and didn’t even realize I was doing it until after it was over,” Cox told the Florida TV station.
Through word of mouth and e-mail, WINK's report made its way to members of the Hy-View Fire Department in Cheektowaga.
"Mr. Cox did a great job, and we have a debt of gratitude to pay to him, and what I like about that is it's an example of what other people can do,” said Hatfield.
Hatfield says CPR isn't just for first responders. He hopes more people might be inspired by this story to take a class and be prepared. It can take a few minutes for a fire truck or ambulance to respond, and those minutes are vital.
"The quicker you can get on location, the quicker you can take action, the better the chances are at saving a life,” said Hatfield.
Luckily for Bill Malcolm, Cox seems to agree whole heartedly with just that, a sentiment that firefighting friends of more than 30 years can certainly understand.
"They're like family here,” said Cox. “Like I said, I've been here 19 years. This is not a job anymore, it's just home.”
Hatfield says anyone can sign up for a course through the local Red Cross, or even see if they can join in with a fire department. Many towns and municipalities also offer courses sometimes, and Hatfield says they should be little to no cost to take.