Originally created 05/12/05

Safety officer's CPR training saves man



If not for an unexpected Saturday shift assigned to Mat Chrisman, a Richmond County Board of Education public safety officer, Mother's Day 2005 might have turned out very differently for one teenager.

Officer Chrisman, who has worked as a public safety officer at West Side High School for nearly four months, helped resuscitate an 18-year-old man who nearly drowned at an Augusta apartment complex pool Sunday.

Officer Chrisman, 34, said he had planned to leave Augusta for the weekend, but was asked to cover a Saturday night shift that kept him in town.

After enjoying a game of volleyball with friends Jeff Stephenson, 36, and Jenifer Averbach, 32, at the River Creek apartment complex off Center West Parkway, Officer Chrisman was returning to the pool area when they heard a woman cry out that her friend was drowning.

The three turned to see a man clutching his unconscious friend near the shallow end of the pool, Mr. Stephenson said.

"He was completely limp," he said.

Officer Chrisman, who learned emergency life-saving training through the school district and as a public safety officer with the Medical College of Georgia, jumped to help.

No lifeguards are on duty at the pool and signs in the pool area warn swimmers to swim at their own risk.

After an apartment complex maintenance man pulled the victim, Maurice Mineui, from the pool, Officer Chrisman dialed Richmond County dispatch and tossed the cell phone to Mr. Stephenson.

He then picked Mr. Mineui up and forced the water out of his lungs using the Heimlich maneuver, he said.

Not an easy feat, considering Mr. Stephenson and Ms. Averbach estimated the victim weighed about 175 pounds.

Officer Chrisman then began CPR.

Thirty seconds later, Mr. Mineui was on his hands and knees, breathing on his own, he said.

"When the first breath came, you knew everything you drew upon in training came through," Mr. Chrisman said.

But Mr. Mineui then collapsed on the cement, busting his lip and slipping out of consciousness, he said.

He was revived again and taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital's emergency room by ambulance, Officer Chrisman said.

A MCG spokeswoman could not provide any information about Mr. Mineui's condition, but Officer Chrisman said the man has since been released from the hospital.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.