T worker to man he helped to save: ‘Heal quickly and enjoy your life’

T workers Dick Ryan, Ed Reynolds, and Kevin O’Brien  were able to revive man Thursday at Government Center.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

T workers Dick Ryan, Ed Reynolds, and Kevin O’Brien were able to revive man Thursday at Government Center.

The woman, a medical professional, was performing compressions on the motionless man lying at the foot of the stairs at the MBTA’s Government Center station, but she was tiring. Someone shouted, “Call 911!” and three T electricians responded.

“There was never a thought or question in my mind about what needed to be done,’’ Kevin G. O’Brien, one of the three, said Friday. “I jumped right in and started doing chest compressions. When we started, this guy was blue.’’


Joining with O’Brien were his foreman, Richard R. Ryan, and Edward M. Reynolds, all members of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103. Green Line inspectors Michael Demetrio and Stephen Nadolna also assisted in Thursday’s rescue, the T said.

The woman has been identified as Dolly Arjun, a physician assistant who formerly worked for CHA Cambridge Hospital. To Ryan, Arjun was key to the stricken man’s survival because she was first on the scene and knew precisely what to do from the start.

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“I was about 30 feet away. I heard someone yell, ‘Call 911!’ ” Ryan said. “When I got there, she was already doing chest compressions. . . . She is the one who started CPR. Without her, I don’t think the guy stood a chance.’’

O’Brien took over compressing the man’s chest from the exhausted Arjun, Ryan monitored the man’s pulse, and Reynolds made sure the man’s airway was clear. A T inspector rushed over with AED equipment installed in the station. Automated external defibrillators are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest and send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.

Reynolds said his goal was straightforward: “Bring him to life.’’


The AED was activated, and, within seconds, the man, who appeared to be in his 60 or 70s, responded.

When EMTs arrived and put an oxygen mask on the man, he tried to pull it off, an act that O’Brien said was a confirmation he had been successfully revived. The process took eight to 10 minutes, he said.

“I was exhausted, but the adrenaline high was like nothing I ever witnessed,’’ O’Brien said. “It was an amazing moment. Amazing.’’

O’Brien welcomed being called a hero and said that he particularly liked the phrase “underground heroes.’’

Ryan, when asked if he felt like a hero, said, “No. I did something for eight or 10 minutes. I am surprised I am being interviewed.”

The T workers unanimously credited safety training they had received, and O’Brien said he had completed his CPR training within the past few weeks. All three said that until Thursday, they never saw anyone else use CPR techniques during their years on the T.

“When you are doing it, it feels kind of surreal,’’ said Reynolds. “It was probably the best day I’ve had here” at the T.

Ryan urged everyone to get CPR training. “If you get the opportunity to get a lesson in CPR, especially if your employer is paying for it, you’d be a dope not to do it,’’ he said. “You could save your mother.’’

Reynolds was asked what he would say to the man if they ever get a chance to meet.

“ ‘I wish you well. Heal quickly and enjoy your life,’ ’’ Reynolds replied. “ ‘It was nice meeting you.’ ’’

Kevin O'Brien, in the foreground, walked past where T workers helped man a in need on Thursday.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Kevin O'Brien, in the foreground, walked past where T workers helped man a in need on Thursday.

John R. Ellement can be reached at
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