By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – Jessica Palmer, 17, has long had an interest in medicine. Now a senior at Sutton High School, she hopes to study biology and pre-med in college and eventually become a cardiovascular surgeon.
“I love helping people and I really want to be able to help save lives,” she said.
But recently she happened to be in the right place at the right time to do just that – save a life. And thanks to her quick actions, today a senior gentleman, a resident of Southgate at Shrewsbury, is alive and well.
Palmer, who has been a waitress at Southgate's café since August 2012, was working her regular shift recently when she and a coworker Dan Musgrove noticed a man who appeared to be struggling to breathe. As Musgrove gave the man some water to drink, Palmer saw that the man was starting to turn purple.
“I knew something bad was going on,” Palmer recalled. “When we asked him if he could breathe, he just grabbed onto his neck.”
Palmer had previously taken a CPR course where she learned the Heimlich maneuver.
“But that was years ago, when I was only 11,” she said.
Nevertheless, she felt compelled to try to help, hoping that her memory on how to do the maneuver would kick in. It did. After a series of thrusts, the stuck food was dislodged and the man was once again breathing.
“It was really scary but I just said to myself, “I am not going to let this happen,””” she said.
“I was shaking afterwards. But it was also a wonderful feeling knowing that I did this and he was ok. And he was very appreciative too,” she added.
The EMTs who responded to the crisis also had words of praise for her, she said.
“They said to me, “Do you know what you did? You saved his life!”” she said.
Later that night, she recalled that when she told her mother, Cynthia, who is a nurse, the story, “we both just cried.”
“But she was very proud of me, too,” Palmer said.