Survivor of circumstance: Cyclist thanks the people who saved her life

ictoria Wolf told Tawana Murphy-Watkins and Murphy-Watkins' daughter, Anfeni Carroll, that it still seems unreal to her how "unbelievably lucky" she was to have an off-duty trained professional on hand to begin early live-saving measures. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Victoria Wolf told Tawana Murphy-Watkins and Murphy-Watkins’ daughter, Anfeni Carroll, that it still seems unreal to her how “unbelievably lucky” she was to have an off-duty trained professional on hand to begin early live-saving measures. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Victoria Wolf of Crofton, Maryland, thanks members of Engine Company 3 who responded when she went into cardiac arrest Aug. 14. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Victoria Wolf of Crofton, Maryland, thanks members of Engine Company 3 who responded when she went into cardiac arrest Aug. 14. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
From left: Victoria, Sarah, Emily and Chester Wolf with live-saving good Samaritan Tawana Murphy-Watkins (WTOP/Kristi King)
From left: Victoria, Sarah, Emily and Chester Wolf with live-saving good Samaritan Tawana Murphy-Watkins (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Wolf distributed good Samaritan “Life Saving” coins to members of Engine Company 3. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
Wolf distributed good Samaritan "Life Saving" coins to members of Engine Company 3. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Wolf distributed good Samaritan “Life Saving” coins to members of Engine Company 3. (WTOP/Kristi King) (WTOP/Kristi King)
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ictoria Wolf told Tawana Murphy-Watkins and Murphy-Watkins' daughter, Anfeni Carroll, that it still seems unreal to her how "unbelievably lucky" she was to have an off-duty trained professional on hand to begin early live-saving measures. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Victoria Wolf of Crofton, Maryland, thanks members of Engine Company 3 who responded when she went into cardiac arrest Aug. 14. (WTOP/Kristi King)
From left: Victoria, Sarah, Emily and Chester Wolf with live-saving good Samaritan Tawana Murphy-Watkins (WTOP/Kristi King)
Wolf distributed good Samaritan "Life Saving" coins to members of Engine Company 3. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — A volunteer firefighter/EMT trying to get to an appointment on time by arriving three hours early had an unexpectedly fortunate outcome — it put her in the right spot to help save a woman’s life.

Victoria Wolf, 54, of Crofton, Maryland, was riding a bike to work near Union Station on Aug. 14 during the morning rush hour when she suffered a heart attack and collapsed. People crowding around Wolf drew the attention Anfeni Carroll, 21 who was a passenger in her mother’s car.

She shouted to them that her mother was an EMT. Did they need help?

“I put my car in park and I ran up the street — I realized that there was no life. And I straddled her, and I just started compressions, and I wouldn’t stop,” said Tawana Murphy-Watkins. The Capitol Heights, Maryland, woman has been a volunteer firefighter/EMT with Prince George’s County since 2000.

“She was blue,” Carroll said.

“Blue, yes,” Murphy-Watkins replied.

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Engine Company 3 was nearby and responded with lifesaving drugs and a defibrillator.

Wolf, who has made a full recovery, reunited with the people who saved her life Wednesday at Engine Company 3.

“The lives of my husband and my daughters are not shattered today because of what all of you did,” Wolf told those gathered. “I can’t thank you enough. I know they are grateful as well.”

“There’s so much more I want to do, see, teach, hear, learn,” Wolf said.

Wolf takes the MARC train into the city and uses bike share to get to and from the office, where she’s a legal secretary.

“I do things in this city that hopefully make a difference,” Wolfe said of volunteering at a homeless shelter and of participating with the Capitol Area Food Bank. “Things that are important to do, and [I’m] so glad that I’m going to able to keep doing them.”

Her husband is grateful as well. “How do you thank someone that saved your wife’s life? I mean … thank you!” Chester Wolf said, his voice choking with emotion.

The quicker someone with heart failure gets help, the more likely they are to have a favorable outcome. The D.C. department encourages anyone who knows CPR to download the PulsePoint app. It’s linked to 911 and will alert participants if they are within a half-mile of someone who needs CPR.

But it was an alert daughter who notified Murphy-Watkins that her assistance was needed, and the pair marveled at how everything came together that day.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” Murphy-Watkins said.

“Yes,” Carroll said. “It was amazing.”


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