Montgomery Assistant Police Chief Marc Yamada was in the right place at the right time when he saved a restaurant worker who was having a seizure.
Yamada was having a late dinner with his wife and daughter at a restaurant in Clarkesville, Maryland, when the woman collapsed while cleaning a nearby table.
Yamada and his family were the last ones in the restaurant before they closed down, having decided to order a dessert. The assistant police chief explained to WUSA9 that he and his family were finishing eating when the woman, Vanessa Lopez, fell to the ground along with the glasses and plates she was carrying.
Yamada relied on his training to act without hesitation.
“That’s when I noticed and went to help her. I could tell by the way she was holding her hands that she was having a seizure. Based on the training we get… I knew to try to protect her head,” Yamada said.
Lopez said she blacked out completely during the event.
“I just remember waking up outside on a gurney,” Lopez said.
Medical personnel called the attack a “grand mal seizure.”
“I just tried to keep her calm, reassure her, I kept telling her, ‘It’s OK, I’m here with you,’ just to try to comfort her and make sure she was in a good position on the floor so she wasn’t choking or anything like that,” Yamada said.
Things got scarier after a minute into the seizure. According to Yamada, Lopez stopped breathing and turned purple, so he started pounding on her back.
When I did that four or five times, she suddenly gasped and started gurgling a little bit, and then came around,” Yamada said.
Paramedics later told Lopez she was seizing for over four minutes.
“[Medics] told me I didn’t remember who I was or where I was, or anyone who was in view. I didn’t remember anybody,” she recalled.
Lopez was then transported to a hospital by paramedics where she was treated. She is now working at the restaurant again, and will see a specialist.
Yamada was thankful he and his family ordered dessert that night so that they were there to help.
“It’s a problem, oftentimes, going out to eat so late. This time, we ordered dessert at the last minute and that extended our stay, and because we were there so late, thankfully I was able to help,” he said.
Lopez was also grateful for Yamada’s actions, and said she was lucky the seizure happened when it did.