Apart from regular daily tasks and routine duties, situations arise that often require an immediate accelerated shift into another mode – ACTION. To switch from everyday work operations to emergency task trained procedures can be challenging, yet on February 21st, the team at the Bonita Bay Beach Park did that very thing. They transitioned effortlessly from the everyday operational mode to an immediate emergency response and all in the blink of an eye.
While winter plays its dreary pranks all over the northern half of the U.S, Florida takes a more dreamy approach to the season by showcasing enviable weather featuring its shining star – the beach!
One day while indulging in the local sand and salt life, Bonita Bay resident Audrey Ferraro, along with her friend Jeanne, was waiting for lunch from the Railhead Cafe, the onsite food service that offers daily bites to beachgoers during the busy winter season.
Completely out of the sunny blue sky, Audrey and Jeanne witnessed something wholly unexpected. Matthew Rutkowski, a cafe worker, suddenly – and without warning – collapsed.
Before anyone knew what was happening, Jeanne – former elementary school nurse – flew into action, and muscled the break-away counter back, and began to assess the victim. When no pulse was detected, Jeanne immediately began to perform chest compressions.
Matthew was a victim of a heart attack. Every second was in peril. There was no time to waste.
Concurrent with Jeanne’s brisk action, Audrey ran up to the main deck to alert the beach staff, and to get help. Beach Park Manager Sandy Meyers, along with shuttle driver Jim Haines, ran to the cafe area with the defibrillator in hand. After hooking up the defibrillator, Jim took over CPR compressions. Emergency services were called and while waiting for their arrival, Sandy ran to busy Hickory Boulevard and attempted to stop traffic in order to direct the paramedics to the correct location.
Beach Park Attendant Kent Cypher quickly made his way over to assist Jim with chest compressions and life-saving CPR. For the next eight to 10 minutes, both Kent and Jim continued to perform CPR on Matthew until EMT first responders were able to maneuver through the congested traffic and arrive on the scene.
Matthew was taken to the hospital and after being placed in an induced coma, he awoke a few days later. Due to the swift actions of the beach bystanders and the staff, Matthew is expected to make a full recovery. A true miracle in the works.
Bonita Bay resident Audrey Ferraro of Woodlake later proclaimed, “The (Beach Park) staff didn’t miss a beat. They immediately stepped in and began life-saving chest compressions until paramedics arrived and took over. It was truly amazing to witness.”
On Wednesday, March 7th, Robin Leete, BBCA General Manager visited the beach park to personally thank the staff and present them with a Safety Award offered by Bonita Bay Safety Committee for their life-saving actions and going above and beyond the call of duty.
In addition, we are pleased to announce that the Beach Park and Railhead Cafe staff members will be honored at a Phoenix Award Presentation on April 9th in Bonita Springs by the City of Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District.
The Phoenix – a mythical bird said to rise again from its ashes, is recognized as a symbol to honor those who demonstrate expertise on an emergency medical or fire scene, to restore life to a victim. The Phoenix Award is the most meaningful and prestigious award presented by the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District; initiated after the District began providing advanced life support services in March of 1999.
Congratulations to the Beach Park team for their swift actions on a late February day. Because of these actions, a life was saved.
(Note: As part of regular training procedures, the BBCA ensures staff members from each company department – Administration, Activities, Community Patrol, Design, Grounds – and of course, the Beach Park – have several employees who are CPR and AED Certified.)
Written by Katie Walters