An Ontario EMS chief got a taste of his own medicine when his staff responded to his house after his wife called 911 because he was complaining of chest pains. The chief then suffered a heart attack in the back of the ambulance en route to hospital. Now, after several weeks of recovery, he’s returning to work with a new appreciation for the job.

The paramedics said they had no idea they were responding to their boss’s home when they received the call. Speaking for the first time since the heart attack, Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter told CTV Windsor that he might have died if his wife waited five more minutes before picking up the phone.

“I started to get excruciating pain from my armpit to my other armpit,” he said. “It felt like 1,000 elephants were sitting on my chest.”

Krauter returned to work this week for the first time since the heart attack. He said being a patient in one of his own ambulances was an eye-opening experience, and admits giving up control wasn’t easy.

“I was asking questions like, ‘What was my ECG looking like?’ I was trying to look at the screen, but they wouldn’t let me look at it,” he said.

Mike Filiault responded to the call. He said it was fortunate they were able to get the chief diagnosed before arriving at the hospital so they could quickly whisk him to an operating room.

“I think at the end of the day, that was probably what saved his life,” Filiault said.

Krauter wiped away a tear while recounting the harrowing ambulance ride. “I was just hoping that I would make it,” he said.

The experience gave him a new appreciation for what it is like to be on the receiving end of emergency care. He’s also determined to make some changes personally, as well as on the job.

Krauter said he is eating healthier and he kicked his pack-a-day cigarette habit. He also wants to keep a closer eye on making sure his staff has access to the best equipment -- right down to the smallest detail.

“(The) razors we use to shave hair off the chest don’t work,” he said. “I know, because it didn’t work on me.”

With a report from CTV Windsor’s Michelle Maluske