Army special agent saves man’s life in Walmart parking lot

Photo of Special Agent John Zoerhof of Holland, courtesy of the U.S. Army

An Army CID special agent’s routine trip to WalMart became anything but routine after he brought a man back to life from a suspected heroin overdose.

According to MLive, CID special agent John Zoerhof -who is assigned to the Marine Corps Detachment at Fort Leonard Wood, MO and an instructor for the U.S. Army Military Police School- was in Charleston last weekend to teach US Army Reservists of the 200th Military Police Command.

During a Saturday trip to Walmart, Zoerhof and coworker Martin Schultz were preparing to depart when they saw a woman struggling to keep a man upright. When Zoerhof saw the man fall, they turned around and went to do a well-being check.

“I asked the lady, ‘Ma’am, is he OK?’ and she just looked at me with a glossed looked in her eyes, and I knew right away that she was high on something or just drunk,” Zoerhof said in a press release issued by the military. “When I told her to call 911, she said, ‘No, don’t call 911!’ and I told her, ‘Look lady, he’s going to die. I mean he’s dead right now.'”

Paramedics were dispatched and informed that the fallen man had no signs of life.

“While I was on the phone with the 911 operator, I told her I was going to start chest compressions, and she asked if I was CPR certified and if I had a defibrillator,” Zoerhof said. “I was like, ‘Lady, I’m 400 yards from Wal-Mart.'”

Despite being a former CPR instructor, Zoerhof had only ever performed CPR on dummies.

“All I can remember is when you start chest compressions, you can’t stop until paramedics arrive,” Zoerhof said. “Once you sink 2 inches down into the chest, even if you hear a rib crack, you have got to keep going. All I could think was, ‘Please Jesus, don’t let this guy die. Put life back into him. Anything.”

60 compressions later, the man began to show signs of a heartbeat. 200 compressions in, the paramedics arrived on scene. Familiar with the man, the paramedics used two hits of Narcan, to no effect.

Zoerhof was saddened to find that the man was released from the hospital later that day, having likely learned nothing from his near-death experience.

“I wanted to visit that guy in the hospital and tell him he should really rethink his life and that it was no coincidence that I was there,” Zoerhof said. “I mean, the odds of us going to Wal-Mart at that time and missing the items we missed in the check-out line that we had to go back for made the timing too perfect for him to not die.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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