Emergency dispatcher and Good Samaritan assist stricken man in Amherst
AMHERST — Emergency dispatch supervisor Michael Curtin was driving to work Thursday morning when he saw a man lying on the ground at the edge of West Street. He pulled over and he and another man, who identified himself only as Eric, performed CPR until a fire department ambulance arrived.
Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson said it is still unknown what happened, though they don’t suspect foul play, and it is unclear if the man, who is 85, will survive. Still, he was glad that the man made it to the hospital alive.
“This guy was lucky. He had a guy who drove by who could help him right away” Nelson said.
Curtin said when he first noticed the man, whom police are not identifying, around 6:10 a.m., he assumed he was having a medical problem, or had been hit by a vehicle. “At first I thought he may have been struck,” Curtin said.
He immediately notified the dispatch center about his location on West Street near Potwine Lane, in the vicinity of Dion’s Tack Shop, the former Kamel Hassan’s Furniture Barn.
“First thing, I called here and got an ambulance and police started,” Curtin said.
When Curtin got to the man, he saw no external injuries consistent with being a victim of a hit-and-run or assault, but noticed the man was gasping for air, and that he would need medical attention quickly.
The second man who stopped at the scene parked his vehicle so that it would provide protection from passing traffic.
When the man on the ground stopped breathing, Curtin called back to the dispatch center and the two men began compressions on his chest, with Eric doing 50 and Curtin between 50 and 100.
“When he stopped breathing, my main concern was to get him back breathing,” Curtin said.
Only minutes later, Police Sgt. Brian Daly arrived with an automated external defibrillator that was used to revive the man, who began breathing again and regained his pulse.
The man was wearing a reflective vest, indicating that he may have been jogging or walking at the time, Curtin said.
Curtin is trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency medical dispatch, which includes skills to assess patients and give life-saving instructions over the phone.
Police Chief Scott Livingstone praised Curtin for helping a patient until an ambulance could get there.
“It was a nice job by Mike,” Livingstone said. “It’s what we expect and it’s what we train for.”
Police are trying to identity the Good Samaritan, Livingstone said, as the department would like to formally recognize him for his assistance.
For Curtin, it was not the first time he has saved a person’s life. A few years ago in East Longmeadow he assisted a woman who choked while eating chicken.