Michael and Carol Martinka, residents of South Run Crossing in Springfield, were clearing out their driveway yet again during one of the many snow days in Fairfax County this winter. Michael was clearing the driveway with a snow blower while Carol was at the front porch.
All of a sudden, Carol heard the snow blower stop and found her husband lying face down in the snow. Panicked, she screamed for help.
“I heard her screaming her husband’s name, so I ran over,” said neighbor Mary Ager, who was outside with her husband Gene at the time.
Fortunately for Michael, Mary Ager was a nurse.
After she found that Michael was not breathing and had no pulse, Mary began to perform CPR while Gene called 911.
“I was real nervous, but it all came back to me,” Ager said.
Another neighbor, Dayna Cooper, who is also a nurse, was made aware of the situation and ran outside.
“My husband came in and said, ‘you have to come now, they’re doing CPR.’ So I ran out of my house and began to assist Mary with CPR,” she said.
THIS CONTINUED for ten minutes until the Fire and Rescue Department arrived. They continued the CPR, established intravenous access, gave Michael advanced life support medications, and inserted an advanced airway adjunct.
Soon after, Michael’s heartbeat came back. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with 95 percent occlusion of the Left Anterior Descending Artery. Despite the cold conditions, Mary and Dayna’s efforts, along with the response of Fire and Rescue, ensured that Michael survived.
“Dayna and Mary are true heroes that were in the right place at the right time, and acted quickly and decisively. Their and Fire and Rescue’s actions have saved Mr. Martinka’s life, and I am happy to have been able to help recognize their heroism. This incident demonstrates the value of knowing CPR; you never know when someone might need it,” said Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity.
Neither Cooper nor Ager had ever needed to perform CPR on someone outside of their job as nurses, but said that everyone should learn CPR in case of emergencies such as this one.
“In the hospital, I’ve done it numerous times, so it was almost second-nature for me,” Cooper said. “My concern was making sure what we were doing was effective.”
The nurses were nominated for the Citizen Recognition-Lifesaving Award by Captain Carlton G. Burkhammer. Both said they were surprised when they found out they received the award.
“It was a very nice thing to receive, I’m very honored, but I didn’t need an award. Everyone should know CPR,” Ager said.
Martinka said he is happy to have neighbors like Ager and Cooper, and is very thankful to be alive.
“The timing on this was very good-they were able to administer CPR very quickly until the emergency crews arrived,” he said. “They did an excellent job.”
Things in the neighborhood have returned to normal, and both Ager and Cooper were happy that everything worked out.
“I see him in his yard now, with his wife, and he’s able to enjoy his grandchildren. That was thanks enough for me,” Ager said. “He’ll get to experience more of their life now.”
Cooper was ecstatic when she found out that their efforts had been successful.
“It wasn’t until the next day that we got word that he was okay and had cardiac intervention at the hospital,” she said. “We were so excited.”
BOTH NURSES wouldn’t have done anything any different-they said they just did what needed to be done.
“It’s an honor to me that the county has a process to acknowledge citizens who do things like that. It made me proud to be part of the community,” Cooper said.
Cooper, who served as a CPR instructor for several years, says she believes everyone should learn CPR and that as soon as her children are old enough, they will learn.
“Now my children know that it obviously works,” she said.