Three off-duty first responders from Plymouth, Massachusetts, were recognized for saving a friend’s life earlier this year after he experienced a sudden cardiac emergency at a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class.
What began as a routine day of martial arts training at the Daniel-Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Self-Defense Academy for the three buddies turned into a sudden emergency where every second counts.
First responders Sergeant Donald Reddington and Detective David Ross of the Plymouth Police Department, along with Bourne Firefighter Nick Robbins, were in the middle of enjoying their training session when their friend and classmate, George, collapsed.
Initially, the trio believed George might be experiencing a seizure. However, they soon realized the situation was gravely deteriorating as George stopped breathing.
Sergeant Reddington described the harrowing moment.
“He absolutely showed no signs of being alive, his breathing was agonal and stopped completely, and he had absolutely no detectable heartbeat on our end. We definitely had a level of worry where you’re off duty and it’s a friend.”
Thinking on their feet, Reddington and Robbins immediately initiated CPR while Detective Ross dashed barefoot to a nearby gym to retrieve an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Ross’ quick response in grabbing the AED from the gym wall and activating it ensured it was ready for immediate use upon his return.
“He’s like a gazelle, taking off real fast guy, ripping the AED off the wall, doesn’t really have much of a conversation with the workers there and sprinting all the way back down, and we were able to get the AED set up. He actually, on the way back, turned the AED on so it would be ready by the time he got into the building,” Sergeant Reddington recalled.
Upon his return, Ross delivered a series of shocks from the AED to George, while Reddington and Robbins continued to administer CPR.
“You need the trifecta of effective breathing, circulation, which is compressions, and defibrillation to restart the heart,” Robbins explained.
Their relentless teamwork persisted until emergency medical services (EMS) arrived on the scene.
Remarkably, George regained both his pulse and his breath thanks to the heroic efforts of his fellow classmates.
Even more fortunate, the three first responders and George said they do not normally take the Monday night class, and George only participated because his family was out of town at the time.
Thankfully, the trio were in the right place at the right time to make the rescue.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the time, it’s not witnessed,” Robbins said. “And I hate to say it, a lot of lay people don’t know how to do effective CPR.”
Following the incident, George expressed his gratitude to the officers.
“Having Donnie Reddington give me lifesaving breaths is now certainly off my bucket list. Seriously, these guys saved my life … I don’t know how I can ever repay them,” he said.
The Plymouth Police Department also recognized the extraordinary actions of Sergeant Reddington and Detective Ross by awarding them the department’s lifesaving award.
Impressively, this marked the third lifesaving medal for each officer, meaning that they have collectively saved six lives through their efforts.
Similarly, Bourne Fire Chief David Cody commended Robbins for his quick-thinking and lifesaving actions during the incident.
Following the incident, Robbins urged people to learn CPR and believes it should be taught at schools and at work,
“We do it all the time, but it was pretty emotional because we knew him and we were able to work as a team,” Robbins said. “George is going to go home and have a second chance at life, essentially, with his 13-year-old son and his family.”