LACONIA — When New Hampton Police Sgt. Michael Grier went to the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division last Friday, it was for a brief testimony regarding a civil case. Instead, he ended up saving a man's life who suffered a heart attack while testifying in a different case.
Grier said he was sitting in the middle of the courtroom in his business suit because it was his day off and listening to the cases that were preceding his.
He said he saw the man begin to slump in the witness chair and said Judge Jim Carroll reached out and stopped the man from falling.
Grier jumped from his seat, ran to the witness stand, grabbed the man from behind and laid him on the floor. The man was not breathing and had no pulse. He began performing CPR and hollered for Court Security Officer Carl "Buddy" Bauer to grab the AED, or automated external defibrillator.
Bauer ran into the second floor lobby, grabbed the defibrillator and within seconds gave it to Grier, who was able to successfully zap the man and get a pulse.
"He was not conscious but did take a breath," said Grier, who said during his training and multiple deployments with the U.S. Army he had successfully used AEDs. He had just completed his mandatory CPR re-certification in November of 2015.
Grier continued CPR, and within minutes the Laconia Fire and Rescue team arrived. By the time the man was taken from the courtroom he was conscious and breathing.
As a police officer, he said he's used CPR on many people but "this was the first time I've ever seen a person go into cardiac arrest." He said as a police officer he usually arrives after the attack and in response to a medical call.
According to Jason Jordanhazy, the head of court security for New Hampshire, the man who literally died and was brought back to life was the beneficiary of a brand new effort on the part of the state judiciary to "protect the safety and security of all those who enter our court rooms."
In December of 2014 he said the decision was made that AEDs would be installed in all 40 total sites throughout New Hampshire's courts. In Laconia, he said there is one in the lobby of each of three floors.
The program was to put 62 AEDs in strategic places within three years. Jordanhazy said the program is ahead of schedule and so far 40 AED have been installed in 28 different places. He hopes the initial placements will be completed by July of this year.
He said the decision to install them came about from general knowledge that things like medical emergencies happen in courthouses and this incident is a prime example.
He said this is the second time an AED has been taken to an incident in a courthouse but the first time the victim needed it.
For Grier, it was easy. He said the machine does all of the work.
"It's pretty simple," he said. "Just look at the pictures and follow the directions. The machine determines whether or not someone needs to be zapped."
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said Grier's description of the level of difficulty involved in their use is pretty accurate but that it was "a phenomenal case of trained CPR," referring to Grier's and Bauer's quick response.
Erickson said the ambulance crew was returning from a call and were at the Main and Court Street intersection when they got what was initially a medical call. He added that they heard the dispatcher say she had overheard Grier calling for the AED and with this information, he said the responders had a very good idea of what they would find.
"It was the perfect storm of good work by Grier, the location of the ambulance crew, and the heads up listening by the dispatcher to pass on what was happening in the court room," he said.
Grier agrees. He said he's really happy the man survived and is now meeting with his chief to see if there is a grant the department can secure to add AEDs to all of its cruisers.
When asked if he stayed to testify in his own case, Grier laughed and said "he did an adrenaline dump" and prepared himself for his own testimony.
He said he had told his wife he would only be a short time in court that day.
"I ended up being there all afternoon," he said, adding he is just glad he was there to help.
Erickson said the man was taken to Concord Hospital and was responding positively that day to some of the treatment he was getting. As of yesterday he said he didn't know his medical status.
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