Son uses CPR to save father after heart attack
‘I’m eternally grateful for what Kenny did – that he knew what to do and did it.’ Al Capurso speaking of his son
GAINES – Al Capurso called out this son at about 10:10 in the morning on March 23. Capurso was upstairs. Kenny, 18, was down the hall in his room.
He rushed to to see his father, who was having a heart attack. Mr. Capurso, 64, gasped for air, and then was unconscious. His eyes were closed and he wasn’t breathing. He appeared paralyzed.
Kenny quickly called 911 and a dispatcher gave him CPR instructions: two quick breaths and 30 compressions.
Kenny also remembered the basics from health class in middle school. He moved his father to the floor, gave him two quick breaths and then 30 compressions.
After two cycles, his father started breathing again with shallow breaths. But that stopped and Kenny resumed CPR.
He did CPR for about 5 minutes until paramedics arrived from the Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance. COVA medics would shock Capurso three times with a defibrillator in the house. The medics and volunteer firefighters transported him from upstairs, down a narrow staircase, and to the ambulance, where he was shocked twice more.
Capurso was stabilized at Medina Memorial Hospital, and then flown by Mercy Flight to Rochester General Hospital, where he had heart surgery. (He now has a pacemaker and defibrillator.)
He spent eight days in the hospital and has been home for about week, already back to planning projects in his role as Gaines town historian.
Capurso is a retired social worker who ran the Bait Barn, a tackle shop by his home on Route 279 for more than 20 years. He is well known locally, active in the Democratic Party. He sings and plays his guitar at many local events.
“I’m eternally grateful for what Kenny did – that he knew what to do and did it,” Capurso said at his home on Friday.
Kenny works at Tractor Supply in Medina, starting his shift at 3 p.m. On March 23, he and his father were planning a late breakfast of French toast, hash browns and sausage.
Kenny remembers his father calling out his name: “Kenny.”
The son went to check on his father. He called 911 and was able to quickly start CPR.
He made sure his father’s mouth was clear. Mr. Capurso had heart surgery two years ago. He suffered a broken sternum and five broken ribs from the CPR. That is still tender.
Capurso has no memory of the heart attack and the life-saving efforts afterward. He didn’t have a heart attack due to blockage. The bottom of his heart was quivering, and not not beating. There was a potassium imbalance.
It took about five days after the heart attack until Capurso was alert in the hospital. He requested his guitar. The first song he played and sang was Kenny’s favorite: “The Cat’s in the Cradle,” a folk rock song.
Al on March 31 posted a message on Facebook: “I’m home in the warm hold of my loving family. So grateful to God for this chance.”
Kenny called the middle school on Friday and spoke with Principal Dan Monacelli. Kenny told the principal his middle school health class, led by teacher Pat Uveino, included CPR. Kenny used that knowledge on March 23, allowing him to save his father’s life.
The family also wants to thank the dispatcher that morning, the COVA medics, and volunteer firefighters. Capurso was at Medina Memorial Hospital for two hours. The doctor and staff there had him stabilized so he could fly by Mercy Flight. The staff also determined he would need the higher-level care at Rochester General.
“We want to say thank you to all of the first responders, and the doctors and nurses that worked on him,” Kenny said.
Capurso and his wife Chris have four children, and seven grandchildren.
“It’s the proudest moment of my life,” Kenny said. “I saved my father’s life. My mother, brother and sisters can talk to him again.”
Kenny said his parents have long instilled the importance of community service in their children. Kenny said he wants to pursue a career as a paramedic.
The family also wants to encourage others to know CPR.
“CPR is everyone’s job,” said Chris Capurso. “Everyone should know it.”
Mr. Capurso is back to working on local historical and heritage projects. He was instrumental in saving a former cobblestone school house on Gaines Basin Road.
Capurso sent an email on Thursday to members of the Orleans County Historical Association, notifying them the schoolhouse has qualified to be listed on the New York State and National Registry of Historic Places. Capurso is president of the OCHA.
He wants a flag pole at the site, a marker on the building noting it’s on the state and national registers, a new front door and new paint on the trim. Boy Scouts are helping with some of those projects. Capurso is working towards a July dedication of the flagpole. He also wants a bench out in front of the school in memory of Woody baker, the past OCHA president who supported the schoolhouse’s preservation efforts.
He also is working to have the bell tower refurbished at the cobblestone schoolhouse on Route 104 that is part of the Cobblestone Museum. Capurso is planning an Aug. 19 event of the bell’s dedication in honor of William Babbitt, who was superintendent of the construction of the school in 1849. Babbitt donated the bell to the school in 1849. Some of his descendants are expected to attend the August dedication of the restored bell tower.
Capurso’s wife, Chris, said her husband is dedicated to his local projects.
“He’s back to going 100 miles an hour,” his wife said.
Mr. Capurso said the projects don’t feel like work.
“It’s fun,” he said.