• Michelle Dawn Mooney

Atlantic City strangers on a train save woman from overdose


Two strangers on a NJ Transit train helped save a life Monday night. Robert Pettyjohn and Kim Shurig were each headed home to Atlantic City when a woman on the train went unconscious from what turned out to be an overdose. As the train got to the Hammonton stop, Shurig noticed the woman turning blue, and started calling for help. “Everyone kind of just stood around,” Shurig said. The man who was with the woman ran away, she said. But asleep with headphones in his ears, Pettyjohn heard Shurig yell. “Thank God you have a big mouth,” he would later tell her. Having trained in CPR as part of his job with Harrah’s Atlantic City security, Pettyjohn quickly assessed the situation and realized he had to step in. Shurig was already trying to get the woman on the ground. But when that proved too difficult, the two decide the seat would have to do. “I’m just going to have to press really hard and hope I don’t hurt her,” Pettyjohn said he thought as he began doing chest compressions. Shurig did mouth-to-mouth. “I heard her snoring and realized she was fine,” Pettyjohn said. But the woman continued to drift in and out of consciousness as the two talked, trying to keep her awake. A few minutes later, EMTs and paramedics arrived with naloxone, Shurig said. It took four doses, she recalled. “After six or seven minutes, out of nowhere, she said, ‘Hi,’” Pettyjohn said of the woman. She told them she was fine. “Honey, no you’re not fine,” Pettyjohn told her. Shurig said the woman didn’t want to go for help, but she was able to convince her. Now, the pair hope the woman gets the help she needs. Pettyjohn said he hadn’t even planned to come back on Monday night’s train. He had been visiting his mother and brother in Pennsauken, and was going to wait until Tuesday to come home since that’s when he went back to work. Actually, he was set to move out of Atlantic City three weeks ago, but that got postponed until this coming Saturday. “It was just crazy how everything worked out,” he said. “Something just kept telling me go home. Who am I not to listen to the Holy Spirit?” And, of course, to the call of a stranger on a train. “I told Kim, thank you for being loud,” he said. “He really did the work,” said Shurig, who is also Food & Drink editor for Shore Local Newsmagazine. “Doing compressions was a lot.” “It just felt good to be able to assist and help somebody,” Pettyjohn said. “And Kim was basically there with me the whole way.”

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