Debra Anderson, a biology and health science adjunct instructor at Northern Virginia Community College, was one of two individuals honored on Feb. 7 by Alexandria Fire Chief Robert C. Dubé, Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld and Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik for saving the life of a cardiac arrest victim at the Braddock Road Metro Station in Alexandria.
At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, a Metro customer at the Braddock Road Station collapsed on the platform. Anderson, who witnessed the incident, and MTPD Officer Joanne Dill quickly came to the man's aid, began performing CPR and utilized the station's Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) while awaiting EMS. Within minutes, Alexandria EMS and Fire units arrived at the station, administered CPR and initiated advanced life support procedures. The patient was transported to the Inova-Alexandria Hospital where doctors continued life-saving care.
Anderson described the incident as “fate,” since her normal mode of transportation to her job at the Pentagon is driving her motorcycle or taking the VRE.
“On that particular day I was running late for work, so I decided to take the metro from Franconia in Springfield,” Anderson said. “I felt an irresistible compulsion to get off of the train and help this man who clearly needed it. Please do not refer to me as a hero, I am just somebody that was in the right place at the right time.”
Anderson joined the NOVA faculty in 2007 at the Alexandria Campus and later relocated in 2011 to NOVA-Woodbridge. As a newly-enrolled Spring 2017 student in the nursing program at the Medical Education Campus (MEC), Anderson expressed how timely the information she is learning was in light of the sequence of events that occurred that day
“I’ve only been in nursing school for three weeks, but as a result of starting courses I had to refresh my knowledge of CPR,” said Anderson. “I think the nursing program at the MEC is awesome. I’m gaining so much knowledge on what is happening with organs such as the heart, lungs and blood oxygen levels. It’s such a privilege to work with great faculty, both as an instructor and now student.”
Stacey Hudson Padova, sister-in-law of the metro rider, said the victim, a father to two young children, is still recovering at the Inova-Alexandria Hospital and is eternally grateful for Good Samaritan’s like Anderson.
“How do you thank angels? We hope to begin by paying it forward and refreshing our CPR skills,” said Padova. “We will actively support our fire and police departments and the metro transit system. Everyone who helped my brother-in-law will be a constant inspiration in our lives. It really did take a village to save his life. A village of remarkable people in this community.”
The Metro and Alexandria Fire Departments presented Anderson with a certificate of recognition and a medal for her bravery, courage and gallant efforts. For additional information on CPR training course locations, please visit their website.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.