Officer takes lifesaving action on U.S. 1

Seven-year veteran performs CPR on heart-attack victim

Howard County

March 02, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

When he felt her heart stop, Pfc. Scott Magee thought he'd lost her.

But the Howard County policeman's efforts to keep Janice Divers alive as she lay unconscious on U.S. 1 yesterday morning proved stronger than death's grip.

When paramedics rushed to the 58-year-old Glen Burnie resident's side, Magee had already brought her back from cardiac arrest once. By afternoon, she was in fair condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police officials credit the officer - who had been sitting at a red light on U.S. 1 in the waning hours of his night shift - with saving Divers' life. She was a passenger in a friend's car, and had stopped breathing.

Because fire and rescue crews respond to medical emergency calls, it's not often that Howard officers intervene first, as Magee did. Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said she could think of only two other cases in the past year in which an officer saved the life of a heart-attack victim.

Calling Magee's handiwork a "miraculous deed," Police Chief Wayne Livesay said: "I can't be more proud of one of our officers than I am now."

Magee, 26, joined the force as a cadet in 1995 after earning his certification as an emergency medical technician. It's more advanced training than the "first-responder" courses that all police take.

But in the slow-motion moment of truth yesterday morning, he didn't know whether his efforts would work. Twice before, he's performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on victims of cardiac arrest. Twice before, they didn't make it.

Yesterday as he worked on Divers, Magee called out her name to keep her from slipping away, too.

"It seemed like an eternity," he said, recalling his efforts to revive her while waiting for paramedics. "It probably was only - max - five minutes."

It began about 6:45 a.m., when Magee was stopped at a light at U.S. 1 and Route 175 in Jessup, an hour and 45 minutes left in his 12-hour shift.

A frantic motorist from an El Camino three lanes over ran up and banged on his window.

Her passenger - a co-worker and a friend - wasn't breathing.

Radioing for help, Magee jumped out of the squad car and, with no time to move anywhere else, pulled Divers onto the road to start "rescue breathing."

As he forced oxygen into her lungs, she slipped into cardiac arrest. That's when he started CPR - assisted by Officer John Mould, who had been around the corner.

Divers' heart started again, then stopped. Magee kept working on her, waiting for the paramedics he knew would come.

After three years as a volunteer firefighter in Silver Spring, he joined the force for this - to help.

"I tried to go home and sleep," Magee said yesterday afternoon. "I haven't been able to sleep yet today. It's almost pure excitement.

"This is definitely the high point of the job."

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