Those at the prothonotary's office at the York County Judicial Center were able to see people jump into action to save a retired district judge when he had a heart attack there last month.

Now, retired District Judge Paul Diehl Jr. is thanking those responsible for helping him when he went into cardiac arrest Jan. 13.

"They deserve the credit," Diehl said Tuesday.

Diehl was a judge for more than 55 years, and he retired in November 2012.

Save: About 1:30 p.m. Jan. 13, Diehl went to the prothonotary's office to ask about his wife's passport. When he entered the office, there was a line, so Diehl decided to sit down.

That's when he went into cardiac arrest.

Michele Chronister, a nurse practitioner in the office at the time, was alerted by her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah Grace Mills.

"Her mother immediately went into action," Diehl said.

Chronister, of York Township, said Tuesday that she was filling out paperwork for her daughter's passport when Sarah noticed that Diehl, who was sitting down, went from snoring to more of a "gurgling" sound.

She went over to Diehl and noticed that he had stopped breathing. Chronister told a staff member to call 911 as she placed Diehl on the ground.

Chronister, along with members of the Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Richard Reincke and Cpl. Justin Koller, helped to resuscitate Diehl using an automated external defibrillator.

“It all happened very quickly," Chronister said, estimating that it took about 15 to 20 minutes.

Sheriff Richard Keurleber called the ordeal a "team effort" that involved not only those three but some of the staff of the prothonotary's office as they called 911.

“I’m just glad that the outcome came the way it was," he said Tuesday.

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Diehl remembered being surprised after he was told that he had a heart attack.

"My heart was back running smoothly again," he said.

The 85-year-old said he spent about two weeks at the hospital, where he was treated for other ailments that were discovered. On Tuesday, he said he's doing better.

“The heart doctor just told me to proceed with normal activities," he said.

He said he would like to take Chronister and her daughter out for dinner to thank them.

AEDs: Diehl said that he believes AEDs should be everywhere and that CPR should be more widely taught.

Keurleber said deputies are trained in CPR and how to use AEDs.

"He was at the right place at the right time," Keurleber said.

Diehl commended the equipment, calling the devices "foolproof,"  and said that the way it is designed, the user can't do any harm.

Chronister shared similar thoughts.

“I do think that it’s important that people consider getting certified," she said.

Chronister said she thinks it was ultimately the AED that helped Diehl the most.

“You never know when you’re going to need to use it," she said.

Diehl said that what had happened to him shows the importance of the AEDs.

“It just proves what can be done with the right equipment and the right people there,” he said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

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