New Jersey police officers, wife praised as heroes after saving man

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Toni Yates is in South Brunswick where a man who had a heart attack reunites with the officers who helped save his life. (WABC)

There was an emotional reunion in New Jersey Monday, as South Brunswick police Chief Raymond Hayducka recognized two officers for their outstanding actions that saved the life of a township man.

Officers Jason Gassman and Bryan Sites are credited with saving 61-year-old Robert Woods, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest on the morning of Sunday, November 9.

The officers responded to Woods' home at 5:59 a.m. after Woods's wife, Lori Woods, called 911 to report her husband was having trouble breathing.

While Lori Woods was on the phone, a dispatcher asked her if her husband had any chest pain. She turned around and realized her husband was not responding, and she immediately recognized that he had stopped breathing.

Lori Woods, who is trained in CPR as part of her job as a local school teacher, immediately began chest compressions. Within four minutes, the two officers arrived on scene, entering the home with their first aid bag, oxygen and a portable defibrillator.

They found Robert Woods on the floor of his second-floor bedroom with his wife performing CPR. The officers took over doing compressions and applied the defibrillator. Within a minute, the officers observed Robert Woods open his eyes and attempt to sit up.

He then lay with his back against the bed as he tried to control his breathing, and he was speaking to his wife and the officers when EMS and paramedics arrived minutes later. He was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and he has since been released and continues to recover at his home.

Robert Woods credits the officers and his wife with knowing CPR and acting quickly.

"I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving," he said. "If not for their knowledge of CPR and quick actions, I would not have survived."

Lori Woods said she could not be more thankful to the police and all who helped her. She credited her knowledge of CPR with her being part of her elementary school's medical emergency response team.

"In my 24 years in EMS and my time as an officer, I have never seen anyone sit up and talk after being in cardiac arrest," Gassman said.

Hayducka credited the high value the department places on training and the support from the township administration and elected officials in obtaining the best equipment.

"These officers did a tremendous job utilizing all the skills, training, and equipment we have to save Mr. Woods," he said. "Their actions represent the best of what our agency does every day in trying to make a difference in lives of the people we serve."
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