Life-saving rampant in Suffolk

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, November 5, 2015

Several stories in the Suffolk News-Herald lately have emphasized the importance of having good training, trusting your instincts — and forgetting your phone.

That last thing happened to Suffolk Fire & Rescue Lt. Taz Lancaster back when the weather was still warm. He was indulging in a favorite hobby — surfing — while on vacation in the Outer Banks when he realized he’d forgotten his phone in his pocket.

He started making his way back to shore when he saw a man’s limp body floating in the surf. The man had hit his head on his board and said he felt paralyzed.

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Lancaster used his training to bring the man safely to shore and administer first aid while waiting for the local paramedics to arrive.

Around the same time, a Suffolk Parks & Recreation employee, Tameka Williams, was in a Portsmouth Farm Fresh when a woman waiting in line near her had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest.

She performed CPR until the Portsmouth paramedics arrived, likely saving the woman’s life. She met the woman for dinner a couple of weeks ago, along with their families.

A month or so ago, Quinton Franklin, a correctional officer at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail, was on his way to a movie with his wife when he noticed a man sitting on an overpass over Interstate 664. He suspected the man was about to jump and, as it turned out, he was right.

Franklin grabbed the man and walked him off the bridge. He found out the man felt like life wasn’t worth living.

Then, in late September, a teacher and a nurse at Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School worked together to save the life of one of their students. The teacher, Brittany Koman, sent the girl to the nurse when she complained of chest pains, and then nurse Stacy Breneman, through her training, realized the girl was having a cardiac problem. A pacemaker was installed at the hospital later that week.

These four incidents contain some lessons for all of us. One is that it’s important for everybody — regardless of whether you work in Parks and Recreation or the Fire Department, like Williams or Lancaster — to be trained in CPR and basic first aid. You don’t have to work in a job that frequently brings you into crisis situations to be able to use these skills one day. You could be just surfing or standing in line on personal business when you realize someone needs you.

The second lesson is that everyone should use his intuition, like Franklin and the nurse at Mack Benn. If something isn’t right, act to make it right.

The entire community is appreciative of these public servants for their excellent work. Lives were saved because of their actions.