Ready to help

Published 10:02 pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not everything police officers do in a day’s work involves handcuffs, service weapons or arrest warrants. In fact, police officers regularly find themselves in a variety of situations that call on the type of skills one might expect to find in social workers, mechanics, highway safety engineers and even medical professionals.

Windsor’s Sheenah Carach was used to the broad skill set her job as a Waverly police officer required, but it’s safe to say she probably never expected to use one of those skills to save the life of a resident. Yet that’s just what happened when she responded to a call at a family’s home in Sussex County in July.

Twenty-year-old Demetrius Taylor suffered from an undiagnosed heart condition; she was not breathing and lacked a pulse when Carach arrived on the scene. The situation was grim, but Carach started CPR and continued it for 30 minutes, until an ambulance arrived after finishing with another call.

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Taylor took two breaths, and when they arrived, rescue personnel took over and got her to the hospital. Sadly, Taylor died in the hospital five days later, but the efforts of Carach ensured Taylor’s family could be on hand to say their goodbyes. That was a priceless gift they’re not likely to forget.

“I have always had this dream that I wanted to help people,” Carach told news editor Tracy Agnew this week for a story about a lifesaving award the former police officer earned for her help that day. “I felt like (being a police officer) would be everything in one. I get to be a counselor; I get to be a teacher; I get to be a nurse. And then there’s the law enforcement side of it.”

Law enforcement officers learn CPR as part of their training, but police officers and rescue workers are not on hand or nearby for the vast majority of sudden cardiac arrests. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, with 88 percent of them occurring at home.

According to the heart association, studies show that 70 percent of Americans would feel helpless if someone they loved suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in their presence, because they either never learned CPR or their training had lapsed significantly.

“Hands-Only” CPR can be learned through a one-minute video at heart.org/cpr, and it can give you a tool to empower you to help in such a crisis. The organization makes a sobering statement on its website: “The life you save with CPR is most likely to be someone you love.”

Sheenah Carach was ready to help in one family’s time of need. Will you be ready if your family needs you?