The last thing Joe Cwiklinski says he remembers before his he suffered a heart attack is being at an intersection in his car along Potomac Avenue in Washington DC. The 75-year-old went into cardiac arrest as he was driving, plowing his vehicle into a tree. However, what could have been a great tragedy instead became a turning point in the lives of many people.
Upon hearing the accident, nearby residents and passers-by ran over to help. When it became obvious that Joe had suffered a medical attack, the local helpers pulled him out of the car and onto the sidewalk, trying to assess how best to handle the situation. It was then that a good samaritan with medical training stepped in to help, giving Joe CPR as 911 was called.
When the paramedics arrived, they administered several shocks to his chest, bringing him back to life. With the vital, fast help of a group of good samaritans and the first response team, Joe made a full recovery. Yet, he had no idea who these people were that saved his life.
Joe decided to reach out to the community and find out who his rescuers were, so he turned to friend Tom Kai for help. “I had no idea how to get the message out, and I’m not digitally savvy. So I thought maybe a sign would work,” said Tom.
The sign was posted along Potomac Avenue by the scene of the rescue, reading: Good samaritans of Potomac Avenue, you saved my life! On Aug 12, Mon, at 8pm, I passed out from a heart attack while driving near here. You pulled m out of the car, called 911, performed CPR for several minutes while waiting for emergency help. My doctor said your quick, immediate, steady CPR action saved me. Today, I am recovering back home. Forever grateful, Joe. It didn’t take long for somebody to respond.
The sign made its rounds on Twitter, and was also spotted by local kids who knew exactly who the good samaritan in question was. They ran to neighbor Toni: “Miss Toni, they put a poster up, they’re looking for you,” she recalled to NBC Washington.
Toni Pollard, a registered medical assistant, was the woman who stepped forward to perform live-saving CPR on Joe. Once the pieces fell into place and the good samaritans were identified, Joe decided he wanted to meet and thank them properly. Everybody involved in the rescue came together at Engine 8 Firehouse in DC for a ceremony to commemorate the incredible occasion.
At the ceremony, Joe presented those involved in the rescue with a ‘Cardiac Arrest Save Coin,’ a token to represent the amazing act they performed that day. With Toni, the local residents, and the first responders present, it made for a large gathering of former strangers, now bonded. “It’s just the realization there are a lot of nice people in this world,” said Joe.
Toni recounted her feelings at the time: “Practicing on a dummy is way different than doing it on a human body! I was like, ‘I hope I save this man’s life’.” Toni is currently working toward becoming a registered nurse, and with an amazing experience like this one under her belt, it seems like a path that is well suited for her, and will continue making a difference to people’s lives.
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Source: Inspire More