Manteca High freshman Amanda Buhay collapsed in her Spanish class on December 9, 2014.
On Wednesday, the 15-year-old celebrated her recovery from her near death experience with the Manteca paramedics responsible for saving her life.
She met with personnel at Manteca District Ambulance headquarters on East Center Street where she looked on as paramedic Richard Gonzalez being honored for his efforts that day by Rick Jones of the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services.
Also honored for excellence in service was paramedic and first responder Dave Hamric who was credited with saving the life of a Lockeford man who had been stabbed 12 times in the upper body. Hamric was credited with his “rapid and successful intervention” in successfully caring for the man while he was being transported to a local trauma center. Both awards were based on clinical excellence.
Amanda glowed in the presence of the paramedics who saved her life, as did her mother Rhonda, who had been called at her Starbucks workplace and rushed to Manteca High to find her daughter being given emergency care on the floor of the classroom by the ambulance paramedics and firefighters. Amanda’s dad, a San Jose police officer, also got the word of his daughter’s attack, but was too far away to respond to the scene.
The first responders provided “hands on CPR” that requires 100 to 120 compressions a minute, to save a life in the critical first several minutes after such an attack. They had taken over from a high school administrator who ran from his office and started the sequence. Once she was placed in the ambulance they used a brand new “Lucas” CPR machine that kept on with the compressions mechanically without wearing down medics or firefighters who often go in the ambulances during runs to a hospital.
Manteca District Ambulance general manager Jonathon Mendoza said the $15,000 unit was the first of five that the ambulance company has purchased to put into service.
The drive to buy the Lucas equipment began when the St. Dominic Hospital community service committee was looking to improve ambulance equipment. It was then, several years ago, that Delicato Winery’s Dorothy Indelicato asked Mendoza what his firm really needed. He presented a functioning Lucas to the committee in the winery’s meeting room on Highway 99.
However, it was decided through the urging of Manteca Unified’s health director Caroline Thibodeau, that if the community wasn’t proficient in use of CPR, the units would do little good in the time needed to make a difference in the attempt to save a victim.
Mendoza explained that once a heart stops, it must be restarted within three to five minutes with “hands on” CPR. The victim is then transferred to the Lucas unit for the trip to a hospital trauma center to hopefully retain the pulse and force blood to the brain, keeping it alive. That’s what the Manteca paramedics were able to do for Amanda who was in a hospital for five days after finally being transferred to Stanford.
He added that when heart attacks or strokes occur people often have no idea what to do as precious minutes tick by.
To try and prevent that from happening paramedics so far have trained 3,500 Manteca Unified students on how to perform CPR so they are able to keep heart and stroke victims more stable and ready for the mechanical Lucas units that are now part of the Manteca District Ambulance Service units.
Family members were also present during Wednesday’s celebration in the ambulance company’s Dale Johnson Conference Center. Johnson was a successful Manteca portrait photographer who played a big part in the formation of Manteca’s original volunteer ambulance service in the early 1950s.