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Lehi officer says instinct, training helped him save a life

(KSL TV)


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LEHI — An off-duty Lehi police officer who saved a man’s life outside a restaurant Thursday says he was just in the right place at the right time and credits his training for being able to help.

Officer James Skinner has been with the Lehi Police Department for 3 ½ years. During that time, he’s responded to just about everything.

“A lot of times it’s not a happy ending for an individual,” Skinner said Saturday.

On Feb. 21, Skinner was walking out to his car after eating dinner with is family. He saw a man lying unconscious on the pavement outside the Del Taco restaurant at 3633 N. Thanksgiving Way.

“So, I go around the car and I see this guy lying lifeless on the ground, and there are three people around him trying to figure out what to do,” Skinner said.

At first glance, he assumed the worst.

“When I first started looking at him, I thought: This guy is already dead. His eyes were open, his pupils fixed; he’s not responsive to anything,” Skinner said. “In my mind, he’s gone.”

But instinct kicked in, and Skinner began performing CPR on the man. The police officer's wife and children stood nearby and watched.

“It was pretty amazing to see him trade from ‘dad mode’ and hanging out at Del Taco to ‘cop mode,” said Brittany Skinner, James Skinner’s wife.

Officer Skinner said switching from dad mode to cop mode happened so quickly thanks to his CPR training.

“It helped me know how to do it properly,” he said.

Friday, a dramatic photograph from the Miami Herald went viral when a photojournalist captured the scene of a frantic woman performing life-saving mouth-to-mouth CPR on a baby by the side of a busy Florida highway. That baby survived thanks to the quick thinking of someone who knew what to do.

At the Lehi Fire station, emergency responders teach citizens exactly what they need to do if they happen upon an emergency situation.

“We want to the lay person to start chest compressions immediately, pushing on the chest as fast as they can, at least 100 pumps a minute,” Lehi Fire Battalion Chief Rick Howard said.

CPR guidelines changed in 2010. The American Heart Association now recommends chest compressions only for adults, and a different technique for small children.

“If you can breathe for the baby, like the bystander (in the viral photo) did on the side of the freeway, breathe for that baby; and a lot of times their heart will stay beating,” Howard said.

It’s good advice for all of us if we even come upon an emergency when we least expect it.

“I just came for a taco,” Skinner said. “Being lifeless on the ground to now being out of the hospital, that’s a pretty amazing recovery.”

Officer Skinner said doctors are still trying to figure out just what made the man collapse. However, good news is he’s expected to fully recover.

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Ashley Kewish

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