Suffolk County prospective juror who suffered heart attack finds life-saving help nearby

The emergency technician sat among prospective jurors waiting to be called Wednesday in the Suffolk Superior Court. As he waited, Ryan Whitcomb scanned the room and noticed an automated external defibrillator hanging on the wall.

With all the free time on his hands, Whitcomb said, he started started imagining how he would use the life-saving device in various emergency scenarios.

Two hours later, Whitcomb put the device to work in a real-life emergency.


At 1 p.m. the prospective jurors, who had been at the court since 8 a.m., were about to be sent home for the day. Suddenly one of them cried out and slumped over, said Whitcomb, who was an EMT with a private ambulance company for nine years and is now its communications manager.

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“A gentleman next to me sort of looked like he was in some sort of distress,” he said.

The man was having a heart attack and had lost consciousness.

Whitcomb sprung into action, along with two other members of the jury pool, a physician and a physician’s assistant. He rushed over to the man and found he had no pulse.

Whitcomb yelled for a court officer to bring the AED that had been hanging on the wall. As Whitecomb set it up, the physician started administering CPR.


“The court officer was so helpful, and the bystanders were so helpful,” he said. “It was a group effort.”

The man, identified by Pamela Wood, state jury commissioner, as 60-year-old Anthony Dixon, gained consciousness and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. He is recovering in the hospital and does not remember the incident, Wood said.

“Luckily for the juror who had the heart attack, there were a number of medically trained people there,” Wood said.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said Dixon is in good condition.

Whitcomb, 36, of Boston, who has been a long-time advocate for defibrillators, said the device saved the man’s life after one shock was administered, and he was glad it had been displayed in plain sight.


“There’s no doubt in my mind that if that AED was not there, the outcome could have been drastic,” said Whitcomb, who signs his emails with the slogan, Early CPR and defibrillation save lives.

“The AED, in my opinion, saved this person’s life because he became pulseless,” said Whitcomb. “He came back to life actually.”

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at