By: Jennifer Costa, Regional Communications Director
Dustin Andrews and Rob Parritt started January 24, 2023, as strangers – completely unaware that they lived just a few miles apart in Windham, Maine. But before the day’s end one man would save the other’s life.
“Thanks to his training and fortitude, Dustin was able to be the bystander we all hope will come to our aid, and the bystander we should all aspire to be,” said Steve Thomas, American Red Cross executive director, Southern Maine Chapter.
Andrews was in the car with his family when he noticed the vehicle in front of him began driving erratically. He is an EMT with Windham Fire and Rescue but wasn’t on duty at the time. Suddenly, the car accelerated and crashed into a snowbank. Andrews rushed to the driver’s aid and realized the man was not breathing and unconscious. Rob Parritt had suffered a cardiac arrest. Andrews and another bystander pulled him from the vehicle. Andrews then started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and continued for several minutes until the paramedics arrived. His quick thinking and CPR skills are credited with saving Rob’s life.
“A medical emergency can happen at any time, and quick action by a bystander like Dustin can be the difference between life and death. Performing CPR during the first few minutes of cardiac arrest can double or even triple someone’s likelihood of survival. In these situations, any one of us could find ourselves a victim – and any one of us could find ourselves a bystander,” Thomas said.
“I definitely credit my training. I’ve done CPR on-duty before, but this is the first time the emergency happened right in front of me with no time to prepare. Muscle memory just kicked in that morning,” said Andrews.
For his heroic and lifesaving actions, Andrews was awarded the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action during a ceremony at the Windham Town Council Meeting. This prestigious award is given to individuals, like Andrews, who step up in an emergency to help save or sustain a life.
“Dustin succeeded in fulfilling the mission of the American Red Cross - to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. He saved a life - a husband, a father, a grandfather, and his neighbor. May we all possess Dustin’s strength, courage, and lifesaving skills if ever they are needed,” Thomas said.
More than 350,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest every year. Sadly, only nine percent survive. That’s why every second counts when responding to a cardiac arrest.
“A miracle happened on January 24th thanks to Dustin and a team of other angels,” said Sharon Parritt, the victim’s wife.
“Almost 48 years ago, Rob rescued our elderly landlords from a house fire. They were in their 90’s. He was rewarded for his heroics by his own hero - Dustin. Our family is forever grateful,” she concluded.
Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency and save a life. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.
Do you know a hero who ought to be recognized for saving a life? Visit LifesavingAwards.org to nominate and recognize an individual or group of individuals who have used the skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain a life.