Off-Duty EMT Springs Into Action, Saves Cardiac Arrest Victim

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By Judy Tacyn

Nick Curran was taking a recently repaired vehicle for a test drive on February 5, which is routine practice for the Bob Bell Ford shop foreman. Heading east on Route 10, Curran left the highway via the Route 648 exit, and suddenly realized that this was no ordinary road test.

“What did I just see?” he asked himself a split-second after glancing at the side of the road. “I saw a couple people hovering over a man, while another man was administering CPR. The way the victim was positioned along a fence, I thought perhaps he had a cardiac incident while possibly doing yardwork.”

Pasadena resident Christopher Singleton was on his way to Home Depot when he saw a man awkwardly leaning on a fence. “I could tell by the way he was hurled against the fence that something was not right,” said Singleton, who was first on the scene to start CPR and call 911.

Two other passersby, Andy Turner and Anne Stull, rushed over to help. Curran approached Singleton and let him know that he was a trained EMT and was going to take over with high-performance CPR (HP CPR). HP CPR uses faster compressions for a longer duration than general CPR. Singleton estimated he was doing CPR for about a minute before Curran jumped in, and another five minutes passed before the ambulance arrived.

The victim, 75-year-old Charlie Harrison, regained ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation) because of Curran’s aggressive CPR just moments before the Marley Station 18 ambulance arrived. Kevin Turner and Ken Bruce were part of the arriving medic team, and they immediately recognized Curran, a seven-year veteran and Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company lieutenant.

“Kevin approached and asked me what we had,” said Curran. “I told him we needed a reading, which indicated the gentleman needed a shock to get his heart into the right rhythm.”

If it had not been for his first responder and EMT training, Curran may have driven by the scene and not taken notice.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Curran. He’s quick to add that if it hadn’t been for the three random people who first took action, the outcome may have been different. “I think they were very happy I showed up.”

Tommy Madkins, Harrison’s stepson, was happy that Curran, Singleton, Turner and Stull were in position to help that day. Madkins said Harrison had four blocked arteries and needed open heart surgery about two weeks after the incident. Harrison is now in rehab.

“Right now, he still can’t fully swallow because of the tubes and because he has to get the muscles working in his throat,” Madkins said. “But [the doctors] have him walking and in physical therapy about three times a day. His heart is doing well.”

Though he’s performed many life-saving actions in many similar situations while working as an EMT with Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company, Curran said this incident was the first time he had to draw on his training outside of his normal shift.

“It’s such a rush when you can regain a pulse or hear a person start breathing again after a cardiac arrest and CPR,” said Curran. “I’m super happy he’s going to survive.”

When Harrison is back to full health, Madkins expects to have a party celebrating that good deed that saved his stepfather’s life.

“Our family wants to personally thank them for being there at the right time,” Madkins said. “If it weren’t for them, he’d be six feet under.”

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