Health & Fitness

An Emotional Episode Reminds Me of Why Everyone Should Learn CPR


On Saturday Kara, the kids and I were driving through eastern Connecticut when we spotted a woman at the side of Route 138 in Voluntown.  She was on the ground on her back,  with a bicycle on top of her, in obvious need of help.  We immediately pulled over as another woman ran to the her side.   We learned they were friends.   The victim was in full bicycle gear wearing the nylon shorts and shirt bikers wear, a helmet, and her shoes were fastened to the pedals with latches. She was gasping for breath and her lips were turning blue.

Her friend told us the woman had collapsed while biking and as she told us her name it appeared to us the woman had stopped breathing. Kara and the woman’s friend began to administer CPR while I explained to the 9-1-1 operator where we were and what had happened. The friend began mouth to mouth resuscitation, while Kara started chest compressions.

I couldn’t help but think at that moment that this was someone’s mother and wife, and we were the only ones around to be with her in what we feared were her final moments. I held the woman’s cold hands and we all talked to her, encouraging her to hang on and breath, and reassured her that she wasn’t alone and we were here to help.

Another biker came over and helped with the compressions and within minutes another person pulled over, who thankfully was an off duty EMT. He took over the chest compressions and looked for a pulse. She was breathing again.

Before long, state police and volunteer firefighters with life saving equipment had arrived, and then the ambulance. The woman was carried out on a stretcher and rushed to Backus Hospital some fifteen miles away. The woman’s friend was visibly distraught and burst into tears when I gave her a hug.

On the way home, Kara and I explained to the kids what had happened and we both agreed we need to be trained in CPR, ASAP. I was certified years ago when I worked at a restaurant in college, and Kara and had learned a long time ago also, but she knew pretty much exactly what to do in terms of compressions. Kara slso talked about how “time is brain.” It’s imperative to get the blood moving quickly to avoid depriving oxygen to the brain, which can lead to brain damage.

We called the hospital later and found the woman had indeed survived and was out of the emergency room.  We pray for her full recovery.

UPDATE:   September 27th   The woman called Kara to say she’s doing great.  She spent a few days at Backus hospital and then returned home to Maine where she is spending time with her grandchildren, and very happy to be alive.

11 replies »

    • Dennis, I just read the story that you and Kara experienced this weekend! As I was reading what had happened , I first want to say Thank you . I honestly believe that you & Kara saved her life! So happy to hear that there was a happy ending to this story! A story that we be told over & over again!


  1. Thank God you pulled over to help! You’re special people and I’m sure the woman is thankful! I was taught CPR many years ago and hopefully still remember it? Doesn’t hurt for a refreshener course! God bless you all for helping!! 😇😇


  2. we should all know CPR; not only for adults but for kids too! glad you and Kara were there! I too learned CPR and what to do when someone stops breathing and is unresponsive; I had to do a chest punch on my husband in March just to bring him back (he collapased in his recliner and I could not muscle him to the ground so I just punched his chest) he did come to but we ended up in the ER and the hospital for 12 days.and yes he is still here with us


  3. Glad for those who stopped to help this women and greatful to the volunteer service that cared for her the rest of the way to the hospital. All individuals involved were crucial to a positive turnout.


  4. Dennis,
    My name is Barb and I am the woman’s friend that you refer to in your article. I wanted to personally thank you and your wife, my friend Dave (the other biker) and the EMT. 5 strangers saved a life that day. We saved my friend, and having talked with her she is so grateful as am I for all that came together that Saturday morning. Thank you and Kara for stopping, helping and the hug. That hug meant the world, and what I try to keep in the forefront of what happened. I was a trained MRT (Medical Response Technical) 25 years ago, but I agree a refresher course is on my radar. We all did good and my friend Nancy was able to take her grandson to the apple orchard this week because 5 good people knew what to do.


    • Barb, Kara and I are so happy to hear that your friend Nancy (I’m withholding her last name to protect her privacy) has recovered and is doing well. It was a great team effort to save her life and she is lucky to have you as a friend. It was an emotional day. I’m definitely taking a course!


  5. Dennis, Kara and family,
    I am the person you helped on the side of the road. It is with great emotion that I have to thank all of the people who helped me survive an event that could have gone either way. The last thing I remember was looking at the last big hill and thinking, “I wish it wasn’t still so HIGH” That is absolutely the last thing I remember until I woke up in the ambulance (still not knowing what had happened). I do know I would not be here today without the help of all of you! I truly believe it was a miracle how everyone of you came together to help me survive. I also have to acknowledge the help I got at both Backus Hospital and Hartford Hospital in the coronary care units. The care I got at both places was wonderful.

    I also plan on getting recertified in CPR so perhaps someday I can “play it forward”.

    Although I may never know all of the people who were involved, I will truly never forget any of you!

    THANK YOU!!!



  6. As Thanksgiving approaches I am once again thankful for all the people who came together that Saturday morning.
    I am now re-certified in CPR/AED and although I hope never to have to use that skill again, I am glad I am able to.
    Happy Thanksgiving!


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