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My Family Saved Someone's Life

My Family Saved Someone's Life

The close call that was the ultimate teachable moment for my kids.

When a local family left a movie theater in Poughkeepsie, they came across a man, passed out in his BMW in the parking lot. Rather than passing him by, the family stopped to help—and ended up saving the man's life. Read on to find out what happened.

Have you ever had an ordinary day suddenly turn extraordinary? That’s what happened to us in late July.

My husband Vinnie had come home early from work, and we’d gone to an afternoon movie at the Galleria Mall in Poughkeepsie with our four kids. As we left the theater around 4:30pm, I noticed a black BMW near our car in the parking lot.

We got in our car and I pulled out of our parking spot. That’s when I saw the BMW’s driver: He was lying on his back across the center console, and his feet were sticking out the driver’s-side door. The car was running and the radio was blasting.

“Something is wrong with this guy,” I said. Vinnie thought the man was just sleeping, but I urged him to check. Vinnie got out of the car and tapped the guy’s foot, saying “Hey buddy, hey bro.” There was no response.

My husband looked at me. “Call nine-one-one,” he said.

The emergency operator told us to pull the man out of the car and lay him on the ground. Vinnie got a couple of passersby to help him while I stayed on the phone with the operator. I pulled our car up so my kids couldn’t see what was happening, but I looked on. The driver—he was a young man—was taking breaths every 30 seconds, if that. He was pale, white, and sweaty, and his lips were blue-purple.

The police showed up first. Immediately, they concluded the man was suffering from a drug overdose. They administered Narcan—a substance designed to counteract opioid overdose—through his nose, which did nothing. Paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and administered more Narcan through an IV. Immediately, miraculously, it brought the guy back to life. I heard him say he’d used two bags of heroin.

He bounced back so much he wanted to go home, but of course the paramedics insisted he go to the hospital for observation.

As I sat there watching it all unfold, stunned, one of the police officers came up to me. “This man was dead,” he told me. “You literally just saved his life by calling nine-one-one.” The young man, now sitting up on a stretcher, looked at the police officer and said, “Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me,” the officer replied. “You can thank these two over here. They’re the ones that called.”

On the way home, my 8-year-old daughter asked me, “Mom, did that man have a heart attack?” I looked at my husband and said, “I’m just going to tell them.”

“That man was dying because he did very bad drugs,” I explained. We talked about how dangerous illegal drugs are, and why you should never use them. My husband and I turned it into a teaching moment—not only about drugs, but also about how if you see someone in trouble, you should call for help and not just walk by, as I’m sure a lot of people might have done.

The movie we’d seen was The Incredibles 2, and my son said, “Mommy, you and Daddy are just like Mr. and Mrs. Incredible!” It’s true I did feel inspired by what we’d done—but I was also sad for what we’d seen.

I’m sure this experience will stay with my three older kids, who are 12, 8, and 6, for the rest of their lives. My 4-year-old probably won’t remember, but I’m hoping she’ll learn from her older siblings. I’m also hoping people start realizing how big the opioid addiction crisis is.

Most of all, I’m hoping the young man we saved stays safe. What happens if he needs saving again—will anyone be there to rescue him the next time? Because the mother in me knows: He’s someone’s child.

As told to Deborah Skolnik

RELATED: Where to Get Help If You Think Your Teen Is Using Drugs


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