Kitzhaber performs CPR, saves woman’s life

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Oregon’s governor performed CPR on an unconscious woman while waiting for paramedics to arrive in downtown Portland Monday evening.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said he was headed to dinner around 5 p.m. near SW 13th Avenue and Main Street when he said he noticed someone appeared to be performing CPR on a woman lying on the ground.

“Well, we were driving along 13th, and I looked off the edge of the road and someone appeared to be doing CPR, so we stopped,” said Kitzhaber.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber performs CPR on an unconscious woman while waiting for paramedics to arrive in downtown Portland, May 6, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Kitzhaber's Office)
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber performs CPR on an unconscious woman while waiting for paramedics to arrive in downtown Portland, May 6, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Gov. Kitzhaber’s Office)

He ordered his driver to pull over, got out of the car and began to perform CPR after telling one of his security officers to call paramedics.

“I just secured her airway and just breathed for her,” said Kitzhaber.

Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, continued to perform CPR until paramedics arrived and transported the woman to a hospital.

“It was a woman who apparently just had taken some heroin intravenously and she actually had suffered a respiratory arrest,” said Kitzhaber.

Nkenge Harmon Johnson, the communications director for Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, said the woman is expected to be OK.

Kitzhaber said the incident reminded him that everyone in the state should know how to perform CPR in case of an emergency.

“I mean [the woman] obviously has some life issues. The fact that she was out there taking heroine in the first place is very sad. It does remind me, however, that everybody in the state ought to take a CPR course,” said Kitzhaber.

One of the first responders at the scene was Lt. Alan Ferschweiler, a paramedic and the union president of the Portland Fire Association. He said Kitzhaber was already performing CPR when they arrived.

“As we had arrived, they had just finished CPR, so the person had gotten their pulse back,” he said. “The governor had his medical equipment out. He had his oxygen tubing, he had an oxygen tank, he had an oxygen mask.”

He said the paramedics came in and took over.

“I started an IV, cardiac monitoring, blood pressure and give a medication that helps reverse some of the effects of some of the drugs that people use,” Ferschweiler said.

The governor, he said, “was very calm. It was just like he went back to his old days of being an emergency room physician.”

“(Kitzhaber) was able to give her, her brain oxygen in a time when she wasn’t breathing. I really feel like he made an impact on this person’s life.”

Ferschweiler said the governor likely saved this person’s life.

“If the governor wasn’t there and that person didn’t have oxygen, and (the paramedics) took a couple extra minutes, that person would have never been the same as they were before.”

Sign up for Red Cross classes

KOIN 6 News reporter Brent Weisberg contributed to this report.

blog comments powered by Disqus