Man recognized for ‘lifesaving’ CPR help on Montgomery Co. bus

From left: Montgomery County police Sgt. Sunyoung Kim, Officer Matthew Runkles, Alexander Vasilenko, of Silver Spring, and 4th District Lt. Gerald McFarland pose after Vasilenko was honored for helping to save the life of someone who had a medical emergency on a bus in Montgomery County, Maryland. (WTOP/Kristi King)

When a 24-year-old man collapsed on a Montgomery County, Maryland, Ride On bus last month, Alexander Vasilenko recognized that the young man needed immediate help.

Vasilenko is a scientist in the biomedical field, so when he saw the collapsed man on the bus the evening of Oct. 3, he said, “Based on years and years of my scientific experience, I recognized the pattern of his sort of coma and suffocation and knew what I should do, knew that he had seconds to live, and I provided him CPR.”

For his actions that evening, Montgomery County police awarded Vasilenko, of Silver Spring, the Commander’s Certificate of Appreciation for his “lifesaving actions,” said 4th District Lt. Gerald McFarland on Monday.

“Teamwork helps to save lives,” Vasilenko said. “And, of course, police do this every day.”

Vasilenko’s efforts happened on Randolph Road near Georgia Avenue, which is close to the 4th District police station where the bus driver pulled over that evening.

“I was leaving the station at the light. Two men actually jumped off the bus and came running down the street,” said Officer Matthew Runkles. “One came running to the police station, one saw me and ran over to my cruiser, yelling that someone on the bus needed help.”

Runkles ran to the bus and took over doing CPR from Vasilenko, while Sgt. Sunyoung Kim, who has a medical background, grabbed an AED from her trunk and continued assisting the unconscious man until fire and rescue arrived.

“I’m happy to report that the young man is happy and healthy today. He was unable to be with us today, but he’s very grateful for the actions of all involved, and we at the Wheaton station are very proud to recognize the action of our officers and Mr. Vasilenko for their actions that day,” McFarland said.

“Every second, every minute counts,” Kim said, adding that 911 dispatchers are trained to give basic CPR instructions over the phone and will even count out doing chest compressions with callers.

“Calling 911 and asking for help, and following directions, and willingness to help is important,” Kim said.

“The good feeling is that the person is young,” Vasilenko said. “If he will continue to develop a healthy, happy lifestyle, he has years to live, 50 years to live, and it’s a great feeling on my side, as well.”

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