First came the dispatch: A 47-year-old male had collapsed at a nearby soccer field and was unresponsive. Then came anxiety.
“Before the incident, I was very nervous driving to get to the scene,” said Police Officer Thelma Matthews, a 10-year veteran of the Sacramento State Police Department. “Seconds count in a cardiac arrest situation.”
Just moment earlier, Anibal Rubina, a Telecommunications System Analyst with the California Highway Patrol, was zipping past defenders during a soccer match before collapsing from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Teammate Daryl Junnila rushed to his side and immediately performed CPR.
A 911 call occurred and enter Matthews, who arrived a full five minutes after the victim collapsed.
“I arrived to the field and applied the automated external defibrillator (AED) pads to the victim’s chest,” explained Matthews, who used a Cardiac Science Powerheart® G3 AED. “While performing the rescue, my training kicked in, and I did what needed to be done. The AED successfully shocked Rubina’s heart back into rhythm and he began breathing on his own.”
The AED saved Anibal’s life with a single shock. He was then transported to a nearby hospital where he stayed for a few days before he was released the day before his 48th birthday. He has since returned to work.
Now hailed as a hero, Matthews believes she was just doing her job. Sacramento State Chief of Police Mark Iwasa disagrees, telling news station KCRA 3 in Sacramento that he “couldn’t be prouder.”
“The AED made a difference saving Anibal’s life. It would have been almost impossible to get him out of cardiac arrest without the machine. I am so glad he received a second chance,” said Matthews. “Do not ever stop believing that you can make a difference in someone’s life. Trust your training and persevere relentlessly because you can conquer anything when your heart and mind are ready.”