Old Town woman saved by neighbors reportedly survives collapse, Dunlap says

Posted July 04, 2012, at 11:47 a.m.
Last modified July 04, 2012, at 1:38 p.m.
Matthew Dunlap
Matthew Dunlap Buy Photo

OLD TOWN, Maine — An Old Town woman who was the focus of a rescue operation after she collapsed Monday on Middle Street reportedly has pulled through, one of her rescuers said Tuesday.

“I haven’t heard anything official — I don’t even have her name,” former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Tuesday evening. Dunlap and his neighbors, Reggie and Roxann Bennett, found the unresponsive woman across the street from their homes Monday morning, initiated CPR and called 911.

Dunlap said that Old Town Fire Chief Steve O’Malley did stop by Monday evening with a brief update.

“He said she was responsive and under sedation. But that’s all he knew,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap said that he has learned the woman is a 21-year-old resident of Sunset Avenue and that he received a message from a neighbor of one of the woman’s grandparents expressing thanks for the group’s quick thinking and quick action.

Dunlap was chatting in his backyard with his neighbor Reggie Bennett around 10:45 a.m. when Bennett noticed someone prone on the sidewalk across the street, Dunlap said late Monday morning.

Bennett and Dunlap ran across the street and found the woman, whose name has not been released. Dunlap said the woman, whom he thought might have have been jogging or walking before she collapsed, wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

“You know, they say that in politics and comedy, timing is everything,” said the Democrat, who served as Maine’s secretary of state from 2005 to 2010 and more recently ran an unsuccessful primary bid for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe.

“I guess if I had to lose the [June primary] so that I could be in the right place at the right time [to help save the woman], then that’s fine with me,” he said, later adding, “I wouldn’t be lying if I said that’s the happiest I’ve been in months.”

Dunlap said he began chest compressions with help from Bennett and his wife, who also spoke to an emergency dispatcher on the phone. In less than a minute, a rescue crew from the Old Town Fire Department, located less than a quarter-mile down the road from Dunlap’s home, was on the scene and took over attempts to revive the woman, Dunlap said.

“Those firefighters — those paramedics — they were magnificent. They pounced on her like Navy SEALs getting out of a helicopter,” Dunlap said.

Responders were able to restore the woman’s pulse by the time they placed her in the ambulance, O’Malley said Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Old Town fire Lt. David Daniel said that the Fire Department has not received official word about how the woman fared after her ordeal the day before. He said, however, that he and other emergency rescue personnel want to let the public know that learning CPR can play a role in saving lives.

“Without early CPR by Matt and the Bennetts and advanced care by paramedics and at the medical center, the outcome would have been much different,” he said. “To have an outcome [like the one in Old Town this week], that’s one of the most rewarding events to have been part of.”

For information about CPR, visit heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/CPR_UCM_001118_SubHomePage.jsp.

Bangor Daily News writer Nick McCrea contributed to this report.

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