Community supports Union County firefighter who suffered a heart attack

UNIONVILLE, N.C. — A nearly 30-year veteran of a Union County volunteer fire department is in the hospital after he flatlined while at work. His fellow first responders are rallying around him and his family.

The Unionville Fire Department is the usual hangout for roughly 70 firefighters, but one of their own is noticeably absent.

Tim Williams said he and his friend of 35 years, fellow volunteer firefighter Brian Outen, were working their other jobs in security on Saturday when Outen couldn’t breathe.

“He was gasping for breath and I thought it was his last breath,” Williams said. “I called 911 and Wesley Chapel Fire Department was there within minutes.”

Williams said Outen actually flatlined for 5 minutes before first responders brought him back to life. An apparent heart attack left him in a coma, dependent on life support.

Unionville Fire Chief Kevin Philemon couldn’t believe it.

“My heart sank,” he said. “He’s a great guy, he’s just a down to earth laid back kind of guy.”

Williams started a GoFundMe for Outen’s medical expenses. The goal initially was $20,000 but by Friday morning, it had raised $30,000. People are showing up in a big way.

“All these years that he helped the community, and now the community is helping him,” Williams said.

Time is of the essence. Outen’s daughter, Makayla, is set to graduate from Piedmont High School on Monday. To make sure Outen doesn’t miss his daughter’s big day, firefighters are setting up a video chat so he can watch his daughter receive her diploma.

At the department, Outen’s name is etched onto a plaque along with all the other firefighters’. Now, prayers for him are etched on the hearts of the community.

“I’m hoping for a full recovery so we can pick, joke, and cut up and go to the fire department,” Williams said.

(WATCH BELOW: Burke County firefighter saved by crew after he collapsed while fighting fire)

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