In the Right Place at the Right Time

In the spirit of Red Cross Month – and a time when we’re focusing on our health and preparedness – one of our staff shares this story to motivate fellow Department of Conservation staff to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

A Life Saving Engineer

Saving lives is not in the duty statement for an associate oil & gas engineer. Yet Jordan Martin of the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) was largely responsible for saving a man’s life this year.

Jordan Martin of CalGEM practices CPR
Jordan Martin of CalGEM practices CPR

And this was the second time he helped someone beat death.

It was January 19 in a San Luis Obispo church where he played bass in the congregation’s ensemble. Martin was walking to his seat when a woman began desperately gesturing to him.

“She told me her husband was unconscious,” Martin recalled. “she looked panicked. Looking at him, it was obvious he needed immediate action. “

He yelled for someone to call 9-1-1 and asked someone else to grab the automated external defibrillator (AED). Others noticed the situation, carrying the man away from the church in session and into the lobby.

Someone looked for a pulse, finding none. Martin learned how to do chest compressions while working at the State Water Board a few years ago, and went to work.

“I played the song, Stayin’ Alive, in my head to keep the rhythm of the compressions,” he said. “One of the others gave me a short break on compressions at one point. The AED analyzed him two or three separate times but didn’t advise to give a shock but instead to resume CPR. I quickly went back to compressions after each analysis.”

The fire department then arrived, took over, and stabilized the man. Martin’s best guess is that 5-6 minutes elapsed between the time he realized the situation and when first responders arrived.

“It was surreal,” he said. “Time kind of stood still.”

Jordan Martin, CalGEM Associate Oil & Gas Engineer

The man was en route to the hospital before church service was half over. Despite what had occurred, Martin was composed enough to play bass again later in the service.

The next day, Martin received a call from the man he helped. “He said, ‘hello, this is Mike. Apparently you saved my life yesterday.'”

“That was amazing to hear,” Martin recalled. “He said, ‘doctors told me if you hadn’t acted, I might have died or I might have brain damage.’ That was kind of scary because I just reacted. He also said his chest really hurt because he had a cracked sternum from the chest compressions. He was a funny guy, said, ‘I owe you a punch in the chest,’ and I responded, ‘fair enough.'”

Jordan Martin of CalGEM
Jordan Martin of CalGEM

Martin played down his heroic action; noting other people offered help, direction and encouragement.

“It was great to be with a team of people who also took action and could share the responsibility with me, ” he said. “There were people there with medical training; I found it interesting that I was the one doing most of the compressions, although I was happy to help.

“A really big part of that, I’m sure, was my experience with my dad.”

Inspiration to Learn CPR

Martin first helped save a life in 2016. His whole family was visiting his home in Tehachapi for Mother’s Day.

“All of a sudden, my mom looked at my dad and said, ‘are you OK?’ He said, ‘no, I’m not,’ and collapsed.”

“His heart had stopped. He was dying. It’s a miracle he is still alive. Because of where we lived, and emergency service availability, it took the first responder 10 minutes to get there.”

At the time, Martin didn’t have CPR training. His mother started chest compressions following dispatcher instructions, Martin mimicked her when she needed a break.

“Fortunately, an off-duty firefighter jumped the call – he heard it on his scanner – and came to provide help before the other first responders got there. ”

“Anyone could do it”

Jordan Martin of CalGEM practices life saving techniques.
Jordan Martin of CalGEM practices breath of life

His father is doing much better these days. And the incident prompted Martin to seek out proper lifesaving training.

“Anyone who has taken training could do what I did,” he said. “there are people who save lives every day. I hope my colleagues consider learning CPR because it can be very valuable in the real world.”

Interested in learning CPR from home? American Red Cross offers online classes.

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