Jesus Molina doesn’t remember much of what happened after he walked into an east Mesa Chase Bank little more than a month ago to withdraw cash from an ATM.
But one thing he knows for sure: He has a guardian angel.
With pain in his chest, the 75-year-old man fell to the ground in cardiac arrest in the entry way of the bank. All he remembers next is waking up in the ambulance and later at Mesa’s Mountain Vista Medical Center.
Shelby Slaughter, an 18-year-old teller and freshly graduated out of Apache Junction High School, and customer Don Taylor had performed CPR on Molina, their actions proving critical in a time of need when many stand by and wait for others to do the right thing.
Slaughter, who began working at Chase in early July, had learned CPR just a few months earlier from taking classes at the Gold Canyon Fire Department. She was among several people honored Wednesday at the east Mesa Fire Department Station for their actions as “Good Samaritans in Action” by Bill Hayes, deputy chief, and other fire officials.
Lisa Ornelas and her son Zach, 17, of Apache Junction, who had performed CPR on a man in a Mesa motorcycle crash, and Robert Joyner, who drew attention to a man erratically driving along U.S. 60 because of insulin shock, also were present to be honored.
Carol Gibbs, with the Save Hearts in Arizona Registry and Education (SHARE) Program, and Micah Panczyk presented Slaughter with a certificate for her knowledge of CPR and her life-saving actions.
Wednesday marked the first time that Slaughter and Molina got to meet each other since Molina’s hospital stay. He received a stint in the hospital the day he went into cardiac arrest.
“It saved my life,” Molina said of Slaughter’s and Taylor’s actions. “I’ll never forget that. She’ll always be in my prayers and on my mind. My family loves her. The doctor said I was gone. I just want to say thank you, thank you everybody for your concern and help.”
Slaughter, who said she would like to work in public relations or broadcasting in the future, said she was working the drive-through window at the bank when Elizabeth, one of her co-workers started asking if anyone knew CPR.
“In that moment, I didn’t think I should be thinking too much but acting, and focusing on the person in need of help,” Slaughter said.
On meeting Molina, Slaughter said, “There’s really no words for a moment like that. He said that I’m his guardian angel. I’m very thankful for him being alive. I think about him all the time.”
Taylor, 73, who lives in east Mesa’s Sunland Springs Village and just stopped at the bank to do some business that day, said of assisting Slaughter perform compressions on Molina, “As I was walking out of the bank, I saw him laying at the ATM machine in the entry way and started tapping on his chest. He wasn’t moving.”
Taylor said he had learned CPR several years ago as part of the RISE program to help take care of his grandson who has severe cystic fibrosis.
The circumstances for trying to help save a life were similar for Lisa and Zach Ornelas on May 18.
Although the man died as the result of a motorcycle crash, the mother and son, along with Steve Chriscaden, acted quickly despite the motorcycle being enveloped in flames.
Lisa Ornelas said she learned CPR when she was babysitter at age 13.
Zach, who worked as a lifeguard at SunSplash in Mesa this past summer after graduating from Gilbert’s Desert Hills High School, plans to become a combat medic after joining the Navy. He was quick to admit that coming upon an intense crash scene was quite different than working at the pool.
“I’m pretty glad that I had the equipment with me to be able to help,” Zach said. “His injuries were pretty significant.”
During the award ceremonies, Bill Hayes said, “As Good Samaritans, when it comes to calling 911, people in the community really are the first responders. Knowing CPR and being aware of your surroundings is important. Everybody is very busy and when these things happen, it’s very easy to sit back and think someone else is going to take care of it. These people took time out of their busy schedules to help out.”
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