Sacramento Police Officer Commended for Saving a Life


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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.”

Watch the KCRA 3 story.

“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.”

Anibal Rubina holds an automated external defibrillator (AED) that saved his life. Pictured from left to right: Lynn Egan, Keegan Hironaka, Officer Thelma Matthews, Anibal Rubina, Joey Bombara and Daryl Junnila.Anibal Rubina holds an automated external defibrillator (AED) that saved his life. Pictured from left to right: Lynn Egan, Keegan Hironaka, Officer Thelma Matthews, Anibal Rubina, Joey Bombara and Daryl Junnila.

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