CRANFORD, NJ – Feb. 5 was a happy occasion for public safety personnel in Cranford when cardiac arrest survivor Catherine Hallax met with the responders who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when she suffered a heart attack on Jan. 22.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:15am, when Hallax, 56, began feeling a pain in her chest while watching television. She was able to call out her son’s name once before she collapsed. Charles Hallax was in a nearby room and wasted no time in calling 9-1-1 and beginning CPR. Charles is an experienced emergency medical technician and serves as a Lieutenant on the Cranford First Aid Squad; he never dreamed he would need to use his skills to save the life of a family member.
First to arrive on scene were Cranford police officers Nadia Jones, Greg Federici and Michael Dubitsky. Two officers continued to provide CPR while Federici applied a semi-automatic external defibrillator and attempted to shock Hallax’s heart back to a normal rhythm. The Cranford First Aid Squad ambulance crew arrived within minutes and continued performing basic life support skills until a pulse returned. Squad Captain Jason Cruz, as well as team members Andrew Judka, Daniel Ho, Christian Berrios and Javeria Ansari managed Hallax’s airway, assisted her breathing with oxygen, and prepared to transport her to Trinitas Hospital. MONOC Paramedics Jim DeVico and Susan DiMartini arrived to provide advanced care and stabilization while accompanying the Cranford squad to the emergency room. Hallax was rushed to surgery within minutes of arriving at the hospital.
Today, Catherine Hallax is feeling fine and remembers little of events that evening. She knows, however, that too few people survive an episode of cardiac arrest and she is grateful to the responders that made tonight’s visit possible. When everyone was assembled, she had one message to give. “Just thank you – every last one of you – thank you.”
According to police captain Guy Patterson, “The emergency system worked on every level. This is a great example of everyone, from three public safety agencies, working as one team to achieve a positive outcome.”
Paramedic Jim DeVico pointed to the immediate CPR as a critical factor. “These guys [indicating Charles Hallax and Officers Federici and Dubitsky], their getting there, starting CPR right away and using that defibrillator really made a difference,” he stated.
According to the American Heart Association, less than 8% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital will survive.1 Catherine Hallax believes that without her son’s quick reaction, and the efforts of each of those responders that came to her house, she would be another victim of that statistic.
Photo attached. Left to right:
Back row: Capt. Jason Cruz, EMT Andrew Judka, EMT Daniel Ho, Patrolman Michael Dubitsky, Lt. Charles Hallax, First Responder Christian Berrios and Patrolman Greg Federici
Front Row: Paramedic Jim DeVico, Paramedic Susan DiMartini, Catherine Hallax, First Responder Javiera Ansari and Squad President Kruti Brahmbhatt.