The one thought that was in Maypearl Police Officer Shahid Azzam Mohamad's mind as he performed CPR for the first time on an unconscious person was, “Don’t give up on me,”he said.
At about 10:30 a.m. on March 1, Maypearl first responders answered a medical emergency in the 9600 block of Norrell Road in Venus, which is inside the Maypearl's emergency services district. Mohamad performed CPR for about 10 minutes and was able to revive the unconscious, 50-year-old woman before paramedics arrived on scene.
It was Mohamad's first time to preform CPR during an emergency call for the department, and just that morning, Mohamad and his supervisor had reviewed CPR training.
“That morning we were discussing that at the shift briefing. On the way over there (to the call), I remembered the conversation that we had in the morning,” Mohamad said. “All the things they taught us in the training, even though I had not used it before like this time, it all kicked back in.”
For his lifesaving actions, Police Chief Kevin Coffey awarded Mohamad an official commendation on Monday at Maypearl City Hall.
“At the time, I was on a traffic stop when the call came in. I cleared from that immediately and headed over to the location,” Mohamad said. “When I arrived at the scene I grabbed my medical bag and entered the house. I started looking for the patient. One of the residents of the house pointed her out. I thought she was dead when I saw that her face was blue. It was my first reaction that she was probably dead.”
Mohamad started CPR despite the woman's appearance, hoping to start her breathing again.
“I started doing the compressions and the breaths just like we trained,” he said. “I started noticing that the color in her face was returning to normal. I noticed she gained her breathing a little slowly, but she was fighting. Just to calm her down, I held her hand and I called her by her name and said 'Hey, we are here and going to help you and you are going to be OK.' Trying to reassure her.”
Once she was breathing again, Mohamad and other first responders loaded the patient onto a stretcher and into an ambulance.
“The whole time she had a grip on my thumb, I remember on my right hand, because I held her with my right hand. When they were putting her in the ambulance, she was still holding my hand,”he said. “I remember saying, 'Can I have my hand back?' I thought that it was like a gesture of thank you or something that she was trying to communicate.”
Mohamad said his ultimate fear was not being able to save the person’s life. About a week after the call, he found that the person had been discharged from the hospital.
“A week later I was ending my shift and pumping gas. This gentleman pulled up. He and a younger man were in a truck. They got out and started thanking me for what I did and said that was his wife. I asked him about her and he said she was in ICU for about three days, but she came out of the ICU and was home. She had been home for four days at the time,” Mohamad said. “It is a very fulfilling and satisfying experience to be able to help somebody. Whether it is in saving somebody's life or getting a child out of a pool or a burning car — it is always rewarding. You go home feeling that you saved someone’s life and made a difference.”
After the emergency call, Coffey and Mohamad's supervisor Sgt. Robert Anderson reviewed his body camera footage of the call. Anderson then wrote up a recommendation for Mohamad to receive the lifesaving commendation.
“After watching that video I have absolutely no doubt that he was instrumental in saving that woman’s life. If he had not been there and stared CPR, I do not believe that she would have made it. He did CPR for probably 10 minutes on that video before anybody got there as far as fire or ambulance,” Coffey said. “There is no nobler thing than the saving and preservation of a human life. That is what he did that day and I am very proud of him and that is why I awarded him the life saving award. He does an excellent job.”
The officers at the department all have CPR training through the American Heart Association.
“We do about 16-20 medical calls each month. People don’t see that. There are things that these officers do every day that people don’t realize how much they do other than just when they see them on the highway writing tickets. That is not what the department is about,” Coffey said. “The department is about serving the community this is in my opinion a part of it.”
Mohamad said that he encourages his fellow officers and residents to learn CPR because you don’t know when an emergency will come up.
“This should be a part of the basic training academy that you go through. Every officer must go through this. At least have some medical background,” Mohamad said. “I am thinking right now to go through the EMT school to provide medical aid prior to the arrival of EMS and first responders. That is because we are usually the first ones on scene.”
He added that he was very honored to be recognized by the department.
“I didn’t see it (the commendation) coming. It makes you feel your work that you do does not go unappreciated. I don’t look for the recognition or the awards or anything like that. It is the job. You are sworn in to up hold the law and protect people. When this comes in it is always better then a paycheck.”