DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine – After spending time last week with President Barack Obama at the White House to show support for health care reform, Dr. Richard Evans did what he does best on his return home. He saved a life.
In a Rose Garden ceremony Oct. 5, the Dover-Foxcroft surgeon joined other physicians from across the U.S. who support the president’s initiative. Evans left for home the next day. He and his wife, Bonny, took a flight from Washington to Boston and then rode Amtrak’s Downeaster train from Boston to Portland.
Evans was waiting in line at the train station to pay his parking ticket when a young man rushed to the counter and asked that 911 be called because a man had collapsed and was not breathing, Evans recalled this week.
Evans said he went over to the man, who was lying on his side, and knelt down beside him. Evans said he noticed the man had no pulse and was turning blue in the face, so Evans turned him on his back.
“The first thing you always want to do is secure the airway, so I was checking his airway,” Evans said. It appeared that the man’s tongue was preventing him from breathing, so Evans worked to clear the airway. As he did so, he also directed a bystander on how to do compressions on the man’s chest. Seconds later, the man began taking slow breaths and eventually his color returned to normal, Evans recalled.
“I just held his head, kept his jaw elevated so that he could get enough air” while waiting for the paramedics who had been summoned, Evans said. When the man woke up, he was confused and didn’t know where he was, but he kept asking for his wife, Joyce, Evans said. The bystanders inquired around for Joyce but couldn’t find anyone who had been with the man, he said. Evans said he asked the man about his medical history, but the man really didn’t know.
Evans said his wife had gone into the restroom before the incident and when she returned, she found their luggage sitting unattended and Evans gone. “She thought it was very unusual for me to leave the luggage, so she called me on my cell phone. When I didn’t answer, that made her even more worried,” Richard Evans said. “She had heard someone had collapsed and she thought it was me.
“I just left the luggage without thinking and went over [to help the man],” Evans said. “I saw that somebody needed help — that was the only thing that went into my mind. Otherwise, I would never walk off and leave my luggage unattended in any airport or train station, especially with the climate today.”
Since his return to Dover-Foxcroft, Evans said, he received a handwritten thank-you letter from David Howe, a volunteer host who was riding the Amtrak train and had observed the incident. Howe thanked Evans for his lifesaving assistance and noted that he had filed a report with the railroad.
Evans said he learned later that the man he assisted had suffered a heart attack and was recovering well.