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HEROES: Ramsey Police Officers Revive Heart Attack Victim

Officer Matthew Rork (left) and Officer Brian Stevens flank the woman and her fiancé.
Officer Matthew Rork (left) and Officer Brian Stevens flank the woman and her fiancé. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Catherine Karros Rork

RAMSEY, N.J. – An engaged woman who had a heart attack at a friend’s home in Ramsey might not have seen her next birthday, much less her wedding, if not for two borough police officers who brought her back to life.

After feeling chest pains, the Tampa woman suddenly passed out and was semi-conscious on the living-room floor of her friend’s Harlind Terrace home when Officer Matthew Rork found her just after 6 a.m. one day last fall.

“I remember waking up with a severe chest pain early that morning and waking up my friend and fiancé,” the woman said of the Sept. 3 incident.

They were about to head to the hospital when her friend dialed 911 instead.

The woman came to long enough to tell Rork that she’d felt a “crushing pressure pain across and center of her chest and pain radiating up her left elbow,” the officer said.

As he began giving her oxygen, he said, she suddenly suffered went into cardiac arrest -- gasping for breath and losing her pulse.

At that moment Officer Brian Stevens arrived with a defibrillator.

While Rork handled CPR, Stevens administered six shocks, reviving the woman.

She was alert and talking to the paramedics as they took her by ambulance to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, police said.

The last thing she remembered, she said, was passing out in the living room. The next thing she knew, she was in the Critical Care Unit at Valley.

She was out for about 20 minutes before her heart began functioning on its own, police said.

“It’s a wonder I have no brain damage,” the woman said, adding that she’d read that fewer than 5% of people who go into cardiac arrest are brought back to life.

She had no history of trouble or symptoms. Doctors, in fact, have yet to determine what caused the attack, she told police.

Two weeks later, she celebrated her 51st birthday.

Both Rork and Stevens, meanwhile, received awards from the borough for their actions.

“Their skills and abilities, combined with the advanced technology they are equipped with, helped [the victim] survive this cardiac event,” Police Chief Bryan Gurney said.

The woman wiped away tears as she read a letter at a recent council meeting that she ‘d written to Gurney.

She, her friend and her fiancé “still talk about how fortunate I was to have everything happen the way it did, the woman said.

“I’m alive because of the quick actions that [Rork and Stevens] and the EMT team took,” she said. “I have a second chance at life.”

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