You never know when you will need to use CPR to save a life.
A ‘Christmas miracle:’ Monongahela police officers help save woman’s life By KRISTIE LINDEN firstname.lastname@example.org A woman will spend Christmas with her family this year thanks in part to the quick thinking and action of two Monongahela police officers. On Oct. 17, Renee Seifert of Somerset, a team manager at ViaQuest Hospice, was in Monongahela for a meeting. She remembers feeling tired that day, but nothing unmanageable. In the meeting, she watched an inspirational movie called “Facing the Giants,” about being a team player. She remembers talking about the film and then feeling sick. Seifert said she was about to tell someone she was going to pass out when she saw a white light and doesn’t remember anything else. Seifert was told later that she was in cardiac arrest with no pulse and was not breathing for 27 minutes as the nurses she works with took turns doing CPR. Officers Bill Fusco and Martel Fontaine were at the beginning of their shifts — they weren’t even in full gear yet — when the call came in that a woman was unresponsive at Peno’s Plaza on Park Avenue. Fusco said he grabbed the police station’s automated external defibrillator from the wall and when his fellow officers asked where he was going he said, “I’m going to go save this lady’s life.” He jumped in his patrol car and Fontaine followed. When Fusco got to ViaQuest Hospice, Seifert’s coworkers — many of them nurses — were already performing what Fusco referred to as perfect CPR. “They said they needed a defibrillator and I held it up,” Fusco said. “I put the defibrillator on and started doing CPR again and she was blinking.” Seifert was later told that Pastor Tim Lindsay laid his hands on her and said, “Lord, by your word, make her whole.” She said that’s when she came around. One of the Seifert’s coworkers began calling out to her, Fusco said, calling her name and saying, “Come back to me.” “That’s when I just realized, we just saved this woman,” Fusco said. “I am an emotional person. I sat in the police car and cried. I never used the defibrillator before and had it work. It was a very emotional ending. She was talking and she didn’t know what happened. She was in good hands there, they just needed that machine.” Fusco said he keeps the AED in the car with him now while he’s on patrol. Fontaine said by the time Seifert was being loaded into the helicopter to be flown to the hospital, she was alert enough to complain that her chest hurt. “When we got there, she was literally blue in color,” said Fontaine, who is a CPR instructor. “The staff on scene was doing a fantastic job and I can’t praise them enough.” Seifert said there was a miscommunication with the staff at Allegheny General Hospital’s emergency room staff, who initially believed she’d just had a seizure or suffered some sort of episode. Seifert’s coworkers came to the hospital with more information about the cardiac arrest and doctor’s determined Seifert actually needed an operation to put a pacemaker and defibrillator in her heart. She was in the hospital for 15 days — 13 of those in ICU. “Today, I feel terrific,” said Seifert. “Without each and every person along the way, I wouldn’t be here.” Both officers were asked to attend this month’s council meeting and they believed it was because it was Mayor Bob Kepics’ last meeting, but a surprise was in store. Randy Margarcelli of Tri-Community Ambulance attended the meeting to present each officer with the Lifesaving Award to recognize their selfless act that resulted in the saving of human life. A bonus surprise was that Seifert was also there. “I saw her and she looked really good, really healthy,” Fusco said. “I had to hold back tears. To see her again and give her a hug, it was really humbling to see her and talk to her and know she’s going to be OK.” Fontaine said just knowing Seifert gets another holiday with her family is indescribable. “With it being the holidays and her getting another Christmas with her grandkids and her family, I can’t even explain it,” Fontaine said. “I can’t praise the staff at her job enough. And Rostraver West Newton EMS and Tri-Community, those guys came in after me and Bill. Everyone had a role to play and did such a great job.” Seifert can’t believe how it all worked out. “I was humbled at how thankful the officers were to meet me when in actuality there isn’t enough money in the world to repay them for this,” Seifert said. She knows that when a person is down for 27 minutes, that person should have some mental or physical repercussions from that — but she doesn’t. “We’re all so grateful to spend this Christmas together. You know that after 27 minutes, you don’t come back from this without God’s will. It was the perfect storm. It was orchestrated perfectly. It’s a Christmas miracle.”