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Off-duty Newport Beach paramedic helps save man at neighbor’s home

Off-duty Newport Beach paramedic helps save man at neighbor’s home
Steve Martin, a paramedic for the Newport Beach Fire Department, performed CPR on a man while off duty in his Huntington Beach neighborhood. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Paramedic Steve Martin was talking with his teenage son at the kitchen table in his Huntington Beach home when he heard a neighbor knock at the door.

A man was lying on the neighbor's driveway. He wasn't breathing.

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Martin, a 21-year veteran of the Newport Beach Fire Department, had been called on many times before for medical emergencies. Most of the time he's in uniform with medical equipment and a full team to help.

"Once your friends, family and neighbors hear you have some sort of medical training, it's almost like to them you're a doctor," Martin said. "Sometimes people will come to me with questions and I'll say, 'You have to see a doctor for that.' I'm just a paramedic."

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But in this instance April 11, Martin knew he could help.

He sprinted the 20 yards down the street to the neighbor's driveway and found a man in his late 40s in cardiac arrest. Neighbors had started to converge on the scene, curious about what was happening, Martin said.

Martin started chest compressions and continued until Huntington Beach paramedics arrived, used a defibrillator on the man and were able to regain a pulse.

Martin's 16-year-old son, who will work his first season this summer as a Huntington Beach city lifeguard, told his dad when they got back to the house that he was surprised no one else had stepped in to help.

"I told him a lot of people are afraid," Martin said. "They freeze up. They don't know what to do. One of the things we're trying to impress upon people is the fact that chest compressions, when done correctly, can bridge the gap until paramedics arrive and create much better outcomes."

Martin said neighbors told him the man was at the neighbor's home picking up a clothes dryer and was moving it around in his truck when he collapsed on the ground.

The man was taken to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and is expected to make a full recovery, Martin said.

Martin was content to keep the story to himself, but his wife of 18 years, Carrie, wasn't having it. When she saw Newport Beach Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Boyles at the gym a week later, she beamed with pride as she recounted the situation.

Boyles said the scenario gave credence to a message the Fire Department often shares with the community: The public should learn the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Newport Beach fire officials offer CPR training to groups such as homeowners associations, churches and exchange clubs, and to individuals who want to learn, Boyles said.

"When you have a community that's trained on CPR and is willing to perform it, there's a lot better chance of survival when we get on scene," he said. "Steve was the citizen bridging that gap. It makes a huge difference."

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN

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