Volunteer firefighter Daniel R. Tartt, Jr., was sitting on his couch on a Sunday night in February last year when he got a text message alert from the Harrington Fire Company.
A cardiac event was taking place at a residence near Tartt’s home. He threw on a shirt and some shoes and headed directly to the scene shortly after 9 p.m. that night.
Tartt arrived at the residence at the same time as Sgt. Joseph Perna, and they both saw the wife of the victim frantically calling for help as her husband was lying on the couch inside, unresponsive and turning blue.
Tartt and Perna immediately responded, checking for a pulse that they couldn’t find. The victim’s wife said she had attempted compressions, but as the victim was on a couch, it absorbed the compressions and hadn’t helped.
“I knew we had a serious event going on,” Tartt said as he recalled seeing the man turning from blue to ash gray.
Tartt said he knew they had to get the man on the floor to properly administer CPR. Perna, in a calm and collected fashion, got to work in clearing an area so they could lay the man on the floor.
Furniture was flying, Tartt said, and in a few minutes, they hoisted the man to the floor and Tartt began the compressions. After about a minute, Tartt found a pulse.
As he prepared to work on the airway, the victim began to gasp. EMS crews arrived within a few minutes and took over, transporting the man to a local hospital where he recovered and continues to thank Tartt, even a year later, for saving his life that night. The victim has asked to remain anonymous for purposes of recovery, Tartt said.
While Perna explained that he was simply doing his job, responding to the training that he has received as a police officer, Harrington Police Department Chief Norman Barlow, Mayor Anthony Moyer and the rest of the city council decided to recognize both Tartt and Perna for their life-saving actions with a Life Saving Award during a city council meeting on Tuesday night.
“Training kicks in. Honestly, it’s just like another day on the job,” Perna said. “We’re here to try to protect the community of Harrington. You never know when that [training] will come into effect.”
While Perna was humble in his account of the event, crediting Tartt with the majority of the life-saving actions taken that night, Tartt also said the night would not have had the same outcome if Perna hadn’t arrived at the same time.
Page 2 of 2 - “If Perna wasn’t there, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been,” Tartt said. “There’s no way I could have moved the furniture or gotten him off the couch by myself.”
While both men were recognized with the Life Saving Award, Tartt said he brought the event to the chief’s attention so that residents could see the human side of police and emergency response.
“Police officers, we see and we hear about security and enforcement, but they provide safety, too, and we don’t always hear about that,” Tartt said.
Tartt, a Harrington resident, has been a volunteer firefighter with the Harrington Fire Company for 18 years, for a total of 25 years of volunteer fire service.
Perna, a Felton resident, has served as an officer with the Harrington Police Department for four years, and previously worked for the Milford Police Department for five years.