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Off-duty police officer resuscitates gym goer

LILBURN - Call it the workout of their lives.

An evening of pumping iron at a Lilburn gym recently morphed into a matter of life or death for an off-duty Gwinnett police officer and a gym goer who almost died on the gym floor.

Officials credited Officer Eric Charron with saving the man's life Friday, verifying the adage that police are never really off duty.

Charron was enjoying an evening of exercise with his wife at a Lilburn Fitness 19 on May 2 when he suddenly heard a "loud crash" behind him, Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman said.

The crash turned out to be the unresponsive body of 48-year-old David Birge, a gym patron who had suffered a heart attack and collapsed off an elliptical machine. Charron attempted to open the man's airway when he realized the man was not breathing and had no pulse.

The officer "immediately began chest compressions while an ambulance was en route," retrieved a defibrillator and delivered a shock to Birge's chest, Spellman said. "He was about to continue CPR when the ambulance arrived."

Paramedics regained a pulse on Birge and transferred him to Eastside Medical Center in Snellville, then to St. Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta for heart surgery.

The officer paid Birge a visit at the Atlanta hospital Friday.

A modest Charron deflected praise by crediting the emergency responders, Medic 6, with doing a "great job."

Charron, 27, is a four-year veteran of the force, Spellman said. The rescue was his first time performing CPR in a real-life situation.

"I wanted to make sure (Birge) was OK," Charron said. "His family thanked me for what I did."