Published: Sep 09, 2010 11:05 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 09, 2010 4:49 PM EDT

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Hypothermia, the extreme cooling of the body, sounds like something you'd typically want to avoid. But in some cases, it can save your life.

You've heard the expression "freezing to death". Now consider freezing back to life? That's exactly why two Charlotte County cardiac arrest victims are alive today.

"If it wasn't for EMS starting that, I wouldn't be here," says 49-year-old Carmela Carillo.

The procedure she's talking about is induced hypothermia. It reduces your core body temperature to slow the process that would damage your cells after a cardiac arrest event.

"Paramedics, after successfully doing CPR and defibrillating patients, will begin to infuse cold saline solution or cold IV fluid in an effort to chill the patient out," Charlotte County EMS Medical Director Dr. Daneil O'Leary explains.

He says it drops your temperature to about 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carmela's heart stopped beating while she was serving lunch to students on the first day of school.

"I should have been dead," she says.

She thanked the rescue workers who saved her and was shocked when she found out how they did it.

"I'd never heard of it," Carillo says. "Now I talk to everybody about it."

81-year-old Craig Baird had never heard of induced hypothermia either, but he's glad it worked when his heart didn't.

"My heart quit," Baird says. "I was bowling. I had just finished throwing the ball and I fell."

All 11 Charlotte County EMS trucks are now fully equipped with refrigeration units and cool saline solution thanks to a grant of $9,684.75. Baird says that's money well spent.

"It's a great investment far as I know."

The treatment is fairly new, and for a while it was pretty controversial. For now, crews will only perform it on adults. They won't use the procedure on children or pregnant women.