He made it through two tours in Iraq — albeit with some traumatic brain injury after IED explosions, and two broken legs from a rappelling accident — but he almost didn't make it off his front lawn Aug. 6 in The Meadows neighborhood in Castle Rock.
Greg Archer, 32, was on the grass, face-down, not breathing, with no pulse, after a sudden heart attack, and no one was around. Then the miracles, as he views it, began to happen.
And recently, the very much alive Archer walked into Castle Rock Adventist Hospital to shake the hand of one of the miracle-makers, Aaron Goudy, a Castle Rock paramedic and firefighter.
Goudy remembers details: It was a clear day when he and the rest of the emergency responders arrived to help. It was also clear that a lot needed to happen right away.
Archer's home security system would later show a video of what happened: His sudden collapse — and how he lay alone, face-down, for about five minutes until someone saw him.
Archer, a staff sergeant and combat medic in Iraq, has a photography business, Spectrum Archer Photography in Castle Rock, and is a homeowner and father. He also sometimes has severe migraines, but he felt good, “normal,” on Aug. 6 when he left his sleeping son for a couple minutes to walk out onto the front yard to water a couple of patches.
He said he lucked out collapsing where he did. “It was the only five minutes of the day I was in public view.”
He was also lucky that a new next-door neighbor happened to take a different and longer way home from work that day to avoid an Interstate 25 traffic jam and ended up seeing him during those five minutes.
Jamie Baumgardner said in a Sept. 6 interview that, since he had moved into The Meadows about two months ago, Archer had been a wonderful neighbor, answering questions about the neighborhood and giving gardening tips.
When Baumgardner returned home from work that day, he saw Archer lying face-down.
“Everything kind of slowed down. I put the car in park, didn't shut it down and ran over,” Baumgardner said. “All my first-aid training flooded back to me.”
And lucky things kept happening.
Baumgardner had visitors at his house — his father-in-law, a retired doctor, and his mother-in-law, a retired nurse.
Archer was ashen gray, had no respiration and no pulse, but the three of them conducted CPR until Goudy and other emergency responders arrived. At that point, Archer's heart was in ventricular fibrillation, still quivering, and eventually they were able to shock the heart back into rhythm.
And the new Castle Rock Adventist Hospital is a couple minutes from his house. Later, for additional help, he was airlifted to a waiting cardiac team at Porter Hospital.
It's not clear what factors, or combination of factors, contributed to the attack, but Archer now has permanent help — an implanted defibrillator to shock his heart if ever needed.
He and his fiancee now attend church together. “Now I don't ever miss church. I sit in the front row,” he said. “I'm thankful that I'm here.”
And the neighbors have grown quite close. Baumgardner has mowed Archer's lawn, takes his trash out.
“I love that guy,” Archer said about Baumgardner.
Baumgardner said he has regrets about something. He thinks he yelled at the 911 operator, because of all of her questions. He just wanted immediate help for Archer.
“I had so much adrenaline going through me I felt I could have flipped a truck,” he said, recalling his own condition during the emergency.