For Ludowici police officer Sgt. Salvatore Genualdi, Monday started out like many days throughout his 10-year history as a law enforcement officer — mundane.
But when he stopped to grab a bite to eat, that changed.
Call for help
Genualdi, who had gone to Port Wentworth to attend a class on drug smuggling, stopped at the McDonalds/ Pilot on Highway 21 to grab a burger.
As he was leaving the restaurant and walking back to his car, a customer ran up to him and told him something had happened and he was needed inside the restaurant.
Although Genualdi was in civilian clothes at the time, the man had seen the badge clipped to his side that identified him as a police officer.
Woman in distress
When he returned inside the business, the officer saw a crowd standing around a woman who had collapsed to the floor.
Genualdi quickly made sure an EMS unit had been contacted and checked the woman’s condition.
What he saw was the woman’s face had already turned a bluish color, and when he checked to see if she was breathing, he determined she wasn’t. He then checked for a pulse, and couldn’t find one.
Prior to Genualdi re-entering the restaurant, the woman’s son had shaped some clothing into a makeshift pillow and placed them under his mother’s head.
The officer quickly moved the clothing out of the way, tipped the woman’s head back to establish an airway and began performing CPR.
Genualdi estimated he performed CPR for about 90 seconds.
As the officer was performing chest compressions, the woman made a loud gasp and began trying to breathe.
After he gave her a few more deep breaths, she began breathing on her own, but was groggy and unable to talk.
Soon afterward, an EMS unit arrived on the scene and took over the woman’s care. She was given oxygen and taken to an area hospital. She was accompanied by her son.
The EMS personnel gathered information from those who had witnessed the incident and then the officer went back to his class.
Thankful for training
Genualdi said he is thankful for his CPR training and he plans to take a first responder course in the future to gain more knowledge about first aid.
Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland said, “I am very proud of what Sal did. He is a good officer and well trained.”
McClelland also said, “Richard (investigator Richard Roberstson) ensures all of the officers are well trained, CPR certified and ready to assist EMS any way they can.”
When Genualdi was interviewed Friday about the incident, he didn’t know the woman’s name or have an update about her condition.
The Port Wentworth Police Department was contacted in an effort to obtain the woman’s identity. But according to Captain M. Libby, the department does not file reports involving medical calls.
He recommended contacting Memorial Health TransportOne, the ambulance service that transported the patient. Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulating patient confidentiality, however, they were unable to provide the woman’s name.
Cpl. Bryan Hill with the Port Wentworth Police Department said he heard the woman’s son say they were from Florida and had been heading to his brother’s house in another state.
If anyone has any information about the incident, call Mike Riddle at (912) 230-1846 or the Coastal Courier at 876-0156.