By Garrett Cabeza
SPOKANE, Wash. — Patrick Moore wasn’t planning to save a life last week as he traveled down Interstate 90. The 21-year veteran of the Spokane Fire Department was off duty and heading to Spokane Valley for errands.
Suddenly, a heart attack forced a 76-year-old Spokane driver to crash right in front of Moore’s eyes. Moore, along with an American Medical Response ambulance crew, sprang into action and delivered lifesaving measures.
“I’ve done some really exciting things in my life as a firefighter,” said Moore, a 51-year-old fire department lieutenant and EMT. “None of them are more exciting than when you do CPR and you save somebody. There’s nothing better.”
It started late in the morning on Feb. 10 when the 76-year-old’s vehicle left the roadway on I-90 near the Freya Street exit ramp, according to the Washington State Patrol.
The man struck a street light pole, entered the right eastbound lane of the interstate and collided with another vehicle before driving off the road again.
Moore said his first thought was, “Thank God I didn’t get hit.”
“I thought for sure it was going to flip,” Moore said of the swerving vehicle.
Moore pulled over to the shoulder and jogged about 100 yards to the driver. An ambulance happened to be driving near Moore at the time and immediately responded to the scene .
Moore ducked into the passenger door of the crashed vehicle, a 2020 Chevrolet Equinox, and noticed the driver’s air bags deployed, the car engine was still running and in gear and the man was gasping for air.
Moore realized the driver was having a heart attack.
Moore put the man’s car in park and shut the engine off. The ambulance crew removed the driver from the car and placed him on the ground. Moore then performed chest compressions for 6 to 10 minutes.
AMR paramedics shocked the driver a couple of times to restore his normal heartbeat, Moore said.
Eventually, Moore and the paramedics stabilized the man and loaded him into the ambulance to be taken to the hospital.
WSP troopers said there were no other injuries and no one was charged in the crash.
“If you’re going to have a heart attack on the freeway, you want to do it right in front of an ambulance, I tell ya,” Moore said.
Moore said it was especially critical that he and the ambulance were there that day.
He said fire engines at two nearby stations were responding to other calls at the time and were unavailable. Instead, a Spokane Valley Fire Department engine showed up to assist as Moore and AMR loaded the man onto a gurney.
“Time’s critical,” Moore said. “Seconds matter.”
Moore said responding to a call while off duty feels different than when responding in his typical fire engine.
“At work, you’re prepared for it,” he said. But when you’re in your own car, “you’re just going for it.”
It wasn’t his first time saving a life while off duty.
In 2019, Moore was at home recovering from surgery when the PulsePoint app alarm on his phone went off, signaling CPR was needed a few blocks away on the South Hill. Moore grabbed his portable AED unit with him and found a son performing CPR on his father in their home.
Moore took over CPR and used the AED to administer a shock right as a fire department crew arrived and took over. The man survived.
Moore called last week’s lifesaving act uplifting.
“It was awesome to be able to help somebody,” he said. “I was walking on cloud nine all day.”
Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said he wasn’t surprised to learn of Moore’s heroics.
“When he’s notified or sees something, he’s always been one to jump in or render aid, and so have a lot of our other people,” Schaeffer said. “They’re amazing.
“His level of assertiveness does not surprise me and (I’m) very proud of it as well.”
Schaeffer said he encourages his firefighters to respond even when they’re not working. And they have.
He said they have provided care on planes, at car accidents and even burning houses thanks to notifications on the PulsePoint app.
Schaeffer said he was exercising earlier this week at a South Hill gym when he noticed on his phone a fire engine was dispatched to the gym. He said he turned around and noticed a person had a seizure and passed out.
Schaeffer said he gathered medical supplies from his car and started caring for the person.
He said CPR-certified citizens other than firefighters are signed up to PulsePoint and are ready to respond at the drop of a hat.
“It’s an amazing tool,” Schaeffer said.
Moore urged everyone to learn CPR and join PulsePoint, adding that it’s a fantastic feeling to help someone in need.
“We live in the community, we’re your neighbors,” Moore said of firefighters. “We’re available all the time whether we’re working or not working.”
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