Officers honored for saving woman whose heart stopped before crash

The officers used an AED found in all Newburyport police cruisers to revive a woman whose heart stopped beating shortly before she crashed her car


By Rogers Dave
The Daily News of Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Four Newburyport police officers will be honored Monday in City Hall for saving the life of an Amesbury woman whose heart stopped beating shortly before she crashed her car into a Spofford Street mailbox.

Officers John Gavin, Eric Marshall, Kevin Martin, and Sgt. Greg Whitney will be issued commendations that evening during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

It was around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, when police and firefighters responded to a single-car crash on Spofford Street. First on the scene was Marshall who found the driver, a 53-year-old Amesbury woman, unresponsive. Marshall shattered a back window and, with Gavin’s help, pulled her from the Toyota Corolla.

Marshall and Gavin then used a portable defibrillator found in all Newburyport police cruisers to revive her. While this was going on, Martin supplied rescue breaths through a mask. Gavin also performed CPR before Whitney took over giving chest compressions.

By the time Amesbury firefighters and an Atlantic Ambulance crew arrived, the woman had a weak pulse. An ambulance took her to Anna Jaques Hospital, and she was later flown by a medical helicopter to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston where she was treated for a cardiac problem.

Following the dramatic rescue, the woman’s father, Dwight Murphey of Wichita, Kansas, sent a letter to City Marshal Mark Murray thanking the officers for saving his daughter’s life.

“For several days, we and others in her family were worried about possible brain damage from her heart stoppage,” Murphey wrote. “It was an incredible relief when we were told she had none. Your policemen’s perfect response had not only saved her life, but had kept her mind intact.”

Murray said police officers have used portable defibrillators to revive people whose hearts have stopped, but last month’s car crash was an extraordinary occurrence.

“I thought it was a circumstance that went a little bit above and beyond,” Murray said, adding he wasn’t sure whether members of her family would be present during Monday’s ceremony.

In a written statement, Murray praised his officers for their professionalism.

“The three officers and Sgt. Whitney responded quickly and effectively to this crash, and their immediate actions help to save this person’s life. Thanks to their training and experience, they were able to deploy the defibrillator and begin CPR during the vital first moments,” Murray wrote in a statement.

Copyright 2019 The Daily News of Newburyport

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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