Kenosha man credits coworkers for saving his life after heart failure

CREATED Mar 14, 2014 - UPDATED: Mar 14, 2014

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KENOSHA - A Kenosha man credits his coworkers with saving his life after his heart stopped working.

What's even more remarkable is that the Ironman athlete had no history of heart trouble.

Jeff Rach tells TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Charles Benson he knows he was given a second chance in life thanks to his coworkers and an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED.

"It had told them there was nothing there. I was gone,"  said Rach, "by them putting that on me it saved my life."

Jeff was at work last week when his heart stopped working.

He's a mechanic with American Airlines at Chicago's O'hare airport.

"I remember one of my coworkers that was in the room saying; 'Jeff are you ok?' " said Rach .

He doesn't remember what happened next but his coworkers grabbed the nearby portable defibrillator to jump start his heart.

What's left of his work shirt shows how quickly they reacted.  

"They literally just ripped it off so they could get the AED on," said Rach.

Doctors told Jeff nine out of ten people in his situation die. Without the AED, his coworkers wouldn't have had a chance.

"There's no question they saved my life," said a grateful Rach.

At age 52, Jeff thought he was the last candidate for heart problems.

I first met Jeff and his girlfriend Faith at triathlons. We both competed in Ironman Wisconsin last year.

Jeff finished despite breaking his ankle 8 weeks before the race. A life changing experience, compared to his near death ordeal.  

"I saw no lights I saw nothing. I literally was just done and that's the scary part," said Rach.

Jeff now has a pacemaker and two stents after Doctors found some blockage but he says his heart troubles were more genetic.

Fate has given him a second chance and with Faith by his side, he's going to live every moment.

"I just  don't want to - quite frankly I don't want to waste it. I don't why - but I don't want everything those people did for me to go to waste. "

Is there an Ironman is his future? Jeff is signed up for this year's race but he will be talking with his doctors before taking on that challenge.