NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A total stranger jumped into action on a Long Island Rail Road train out of Penn Station, saving the life of a father heading home to his family.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Bill Gerow learned CPR as a Boy Scout, yet somehow those long ago instincts kicked in aboard an LIRR train in a moment of crisis.

“His head landed in my left hand, so he was looking up, but he wasn’t breathing; no pulse, he was gone,” said Gerow, of Farmingdale.

Investment banker Christopher Marshall was heading home to Ronkonkoma when the husband and father of two suddenly suffered coronary failure.

“My husband suffered a cardiac arrest and a total stranger jumped into action,” said wife Margaret Marshall.

Seated next to him was Gerow, who didn’t hesitate to jump in.

“I picked up Chris and I laid him in between the seats on the train on the floor,” Gerow recalled. “So I just immediately started compressions on his chest.”

“Had he not done that Chris could have had — first of all not survived, Chris could have had brain damage,” Margaret said.

“By the time it all happened and we got to the next stop, which is only seven minutes from Bethpage to Farmingdale…” Gerow said. “…The doors opened, he was breathing, he wasn’t conscious but he was breathing. The EMT rushed in, I just stood up, I saw some people (clapping), I (gave them two thumbs up) and I walked off the train.”

Marshall’s family met the ambulance at the hospital and finally tracked down Gerow for an emotional bedside reunion before Marshall went into surgery, McLogan reported.

Doctors said the prognosis is good for Marshall.

“My husband said ‘I was saved by a carpenter, it’s all God being there,'” Margaret said.

Emergency responders from Nassau County Police said that since Marshall’s life was saved aboard the train, requests for CPR training have spiked.

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