An Aroostook County man is recuperating after collapsing from a heart attack in Presque Isle earlier this month.
Star City Sanitation crew members Joe Levesque of Fort Fairfield and Chris Perkins of Presque Isle were about to empty a dumpster at the Presque Isle International Airport, when Perkins turned to find his co-worker on the ground.
Thanks to Perkins’ cries for help and the quick actions of three Transportation Security Administration employees, Levesque was able to be revived and is expected to make a full recovery.
Labor Day began normally for the sanitation crew. Shortly before noontime, they backed up to a dumpster at the airport.
“I flipped the lid open on the Dumpster, looked in the mirror and didn’t see him. I walked around [the truck] and he was lying on the ground,” Perkins said. “I ran into the airport and told them I had a fellow on the ground and to call 911.”
TSA officers Dan Marquis of Fort Kent, Michelle Morrison of Presque Isle and Tyler Raymond of Caribou rushed outside with Perkins. As Marquis started CPR, Morrison called 911 and ran to grab the airport’s automated external defibrillator. Raymond unpacked the defibrillator.
A member of the TSA staff for about five years, Marquis served 22 years as a Maine state trooper, six years as an emergency medical technician and was also a Fort Kent firefighter. He is also a part-time sheriff’s deputy. He’s seen his share of incidents that did not end well.
“As I walked up to the man, he was lifeless. He wasn’t breathing,” Marquis said. “He had the face of death, which I’ve seen many times through my career as a Maine state trooper.”
Marquis assessed the patient and began CPR. He and Raymond positioned the defibrillator and applied it once. Levesque gasped for air. They shocked him again and continued CPR. Raymond took over to continue CPR until help arrived, Marquis said.
Paramedics arrived soon and administered medication, at which point Levesque revived.
“When he was leaving, I looked at the monitor and he had a [heart] rhythm,” Marquis said.
Levesque was taken to Northern Light A.R. Gould and then to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. The next day, Levesque’s grateful son called Marquis to report his father was expected to make a full recovery.
It was a team effort, Marquis said. Thanks to his years of training, he was able to remain calm and focused throughout the episode, but it left him marveling at how fate works.
That day all the pieces just lined up perfectly, he said. The airport’s administrative assistant, Jewel Graves, had just changed Star City’s route to a Monday pickup. If the sanitation crew hadn’t been at the airport they might not have been where people were available to help so quickly.
“Thank God there was someone there, especially where it was a holiday,” Perkins said. “I believe everything happened for a reason.”
Had the TSA staff not been there at that time, Perkins would have had to go somewhere else to find assistance, and help might not have reached his co-worker in time.
Marquis said he and his fellow staff members were just happy to be able to help.
“I hope that when Joe comes out of the hospital, we will get to meet him,” he said.
“When I heard Joe Levesque was making a full recovery, I felt immediate joy,” Raymond said. “I am now a firefighter in my free time and have been with the department for close to 10 years. When it came time for me to step in during this situation, it was like a second language, and I knew exactly what to do.”