PEPPERELL — Tuesday afternoon, a car rolled through the intersection of Groton and Main streets and came to a rest against Kemp’s Service Station.
The driver was slumped over the steering wheel, his wife in the passenger seat. The actions of a police officer and an out-of-town firefighter are credited with saving the victim’s life.
Pepperell Police Officer Fabrizio Vestri was the first to respond to the emergency call that came in just after 4 p.m.
Vestri’s quick thinking and subsequent actions saved the victim’s life, according to press release from the Pepperell department.
Vestri knew that he would be facing a challenge when he responded to the call.
“Usually when they say nonresponsive, it isn’t a good thing,” he said Wednesday.
When he arrived at the scene, onlookers had already removed the man from the car. The victim had no pulse and was not breathing.
Vestri began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used an automatic external defibrillator to shock the victim’s heart.
“Officer Vestri told me that it was a total team effort,” Scott said. “He mentioned that an employee of Pepperell Beverage, who is also a firefighter in a nearby town, ran over and assisted him with CPR. Of course, our paramedics and EMTs were major factors as well.”
The police department did not identify the firefighter until the next day.
Pat Dickhaut, a volunteer Ashby firefighter with first responder training, said he did compressions to help Vestri work on the victim.
The two rescuers had never met before but were able to function as a team. “It actually worked out quite well,” Vestri said. Dickhaut helped set up equipment and then took over doing compressions, he said.
“He’s like a little superhero,” said Randy Brubaker about Dickhaut. Brubaker is the owner of the newly opened wine store across the rail trail from the garage.
“He’s quite a guy,” Brubaker said. About a month and half ago, the firefighter helped a fellow diner who passed out at Charlotte’s Cozy Kitchen, he said.
“So much of these situations are about timing, said Chief David Scott. “Oddly enough, our officers, including Officer Vestri, had just made an arrest on the other end of town a few minutes prior to this medical call. If this medical emergency had happened a few minutes earlier, the officers might have been tied up making the arrest,” Scott said. “Luckily, Officer Vestri was driving toward the area and was in the right place at the right time to make a difference.”
The victim was transported to Nashoba Valley Medical Center Tuesday and was reported to be doing well. He was awake and talking to the emergency medical technicians when they dropped him off at the hospital, Scott said.
“I felt great, especially finding out he made a quick recovery at the hospital,” Vestri said.
The victim’s niece sent Scott a message after the incident asking him to thank Vestri for saving her uncle’s life.
The victim was identified as a Pepperell man, but police did not release his name. Scott said he spoke with the man’s niece today who said her uncle is doing about the same.
The vehicle struck the building when it came to a stop, causing damage to the building and vehicle, Vestri said. There were no injuries as a result of the low-speed collision.