EXETER — One day after services for her 40-year-old son following his sudden death, a grieving Patricia Walker collapsed in the driveway of her Alder Street home.
The stress of the death had weighed heavily on Walker, then 61, but the pulmonary embolism that struck without warning could have been fatal if not for the quick action by family members and the first responders who likely saved her life.
“I want to thank you for bringing me back to my family,” a teary-eyed Walker said at an emotional ceremony Thursday afternoon recognizing the first police officers to arrive that day with their automated external defibrillator and her brothers who performed CPR until help from police and other emergency personnel arrived.
Police Sgt. Justin Ranauro and Officer Joseph Byron earned the police department’s life-saving awards. Officer Theodore Sierad was given a letter of recognition for staying with the family and consoling them during the emergency.
Police Chief Stephan Poulin said their actions on April 6 no doubt saved Walker’s life.
“If we had lost her, I don’t know what we would have done,” said her granddaughter, Sharice Romero, one of several family members who thanked officers during the ceremony at the town’s safety complex.
Walker was unconscious and not breathing when Ranuaro and Byron first arrived. Ranuaro took over CPR from Walker’s brothers, Thomas Comeau and Terry Oakley, while Byron quickly grabbed the defibrillator from his cruiser.
The two officers alternated CPR chest compressions with the defibrillator shocks.
“She was showing signs of breath when the fire department arrived,” Byron said.
Byron said he was trained on the use of the defibrillator only within the past six to eight months and feels fortunate to have the life-saving equipment on hand.
Walker’s family members said they were also glad that police had the device and training.
Her daughter-in-law, Tanya Lopez, said she couldn’t believe what had happened one day after her husband, Shane M. Walker, was laid to rest and the family was still in mourning.
“We were so glad to have her still here with us and not having double services,” she said.