One of the most terrifying experiences most of us could face is to see someone fall down and become unresponsive. In such a circumstance, many people would not know what to do in order to try to save a life. Certainly calling 911 is at the top of most people’s list, as it should be, but there are other interventions, such as CPR, that can make a difference in the meantime, while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. And for those who’ve received the training, using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) can often make the difference between life and death.
On September 21st, 2017, Officer Natassia Miller of the Hodgkins Police Department was dispatched to the UPS sorting facility in Hodgkins for an unresponsive subject. Arriving ahead of the ambulance, Officer Miller was told that there was a “down subject” at Door 2. Not knowing for sure what to expect, she grabbed her squad car’s assigned AED just in case it was needed. When she got to the unconscious man, there was a co-worker administering CPR. Officer Miller attached the AED to the man and delivered shock when the machine advised her to do so. When the paramedics of Pleasantview Fire Protection District arrived moments later, they took over, eventually loading the man onto the ambulance and getting him to the hospital, where he made a full recovery.
At the December village board meeting, Natassia was recognized for her outstanding performance of duties in this act, and was awarded a commendation by Chief Millsap of the Hodgkins Police Department. In the commendation, Chief Millsap had this to say of her:
“In this event, Officer Natassia Miller responded valiantly and assisted a fellow human being, along with Pleasantview Fire Department paramedics and the medical staff at LaGrange Memorial Hospital, giving the victim a second chance at life.”
Hodgkins Trustee Vicky Moxley, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, said it was a good thing Natassia had the AED training that she did.
“Any time someone in the community goes down, the clock is ticking,” Moxley said. “Time is everything when someone has a heart attack. You generally have about four minutes before brain damage occurs, followed shortly by death. While the ambulance is on the way, you have a window of opportunity, if you’re trained. Early intervention is so important because it increases the likelihood of survival. Their lives are so dependent on the first people who come across them, and sometimes it’s not the paramedics.”
Moxley went on to praise Officer Miller’s actions.
“Natassia went above the call of duty, showing herself to be an exemplary employee, using her training to provide care for someone who otherwise may not have survived. She stayed cool, calm and collected, and that’s what you have to do. It’s great that our officers have this training. We always hope we never have to use it, but it’s great to have it for when we do.”
Chief Buckley of the Pleasantview Fire Protection District agreed with Trustee Moxley. “It has been well proven that early CPR and intervention with a defibrillator offers a victim in cardiac arrest the best chance of survival,” he wrote. “In this case, the actions by Officer Miller were vital in saving a man’s life. The Pleasantview Fire District is proud of our long history of teamwork with the Hodgkins Police Department. Outcomes such as this one would not be possible without it.”
The officers of the Hodgkins Police Department receive regular training in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), and in the use of AEDs. Thanks to the forward-thinking initiative of the Village of Hodgkins, all of the police squad cars and village buildings are now equipped with AEDs.
Officer Miller has been with the Hodgkins Police Department since 2004. She’s a Field Training Officer, helping to train new police officers, and she’s a member of the Bike Patrol. She also serves frequently as an OIC (Officer In Charge) on her shift. When asked about her role in helping the heart attack victim at UPS, she was modest.
“I still don’t really feel like I saved him. The Pleasantview paramedics did so much for him when they arrived. I may have bought him some time,” she said. “But I’m glad I was able to help the man in whatever way I did that contributed to saving his life.”
Officer Miller has made herself at home in our community, and plans to be with us for quite some time to come.
“I think Hodgkins is a great town to work for, and I hope to spend the final fourteen years of my police career here.”