SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A rookie San Jose Police officer with just seven days on the job was among those who helped save an elderly woman who suffered a massive heart attack after her apartment caught on fire.
"This is what officers do. When people need help, you're there to be, in a sense, their hero on their worst day," Officer Christopher Reed told KPIX 5.
Reed recently graduated from the police academy and is still paired with a veteran field training officer during his first few weeks and months on the job.
The pair responded Tuesday to a report of a fire and explosion at an apartment complex south of downtown San Jose.
San Jose firefighters saID a smoldering fire on the woman's patio ignited some oxygen tanks stored nearby. According to officers, the intense flames blocked the patio and front doors of the apartment. The elderly woman, her son and his girlfriend were forced to escape out of a narrow window on the back side of the apartment.
"The curtains were on fire. And the front door had fire all around it so he knew he couldn't exit that way," said Officer Michael Roberson, the first officer to arrive on the scene of the fire.
Roberson said the victim escaped the burning building and walked a short distance to a neighboring apartment where she paused to rest. And at some point, she suffered a massive heart attack.
"Her heart had stopped. She had no pulse and she also had no respiration," Roberson said.
The police officers, who had arrived on the scene slightly ahead of their colleagues in the fire department, sprang into action.
"We put her on the gurney and I just started doing chest compressions to get that heart pumping again." said Reed.
For the next five minutes, the officers performed chest compressions, trading off whenever one of them would tire.
"Officer Reed, Officer Avila and I were switching off doing chest compressions. It get a little tiring when you're doing that. So, you want to make sure you keep the same pace up so you get the same flow," said Roberson.
By the time the woman was loaded into the ambulance, she had a pulse and chance of survival.
Roberson, who has been on the job more than 20 years, has only performed CPR while on duty twice. Tragically, the other time was at last month's mass shooting at the VTA railyard.
for more features.