Jared Barag is used to walking outside his Marlton, N.J. home and greeting his neighbors. The 24-year-old Drexel University engineering student has known the husband and wife for 12 years and often sees them walking the dogs or doing yard work.
On June 8 Barag headed outside to wash his car and saw his neighbor mowing the lawn. He waved and assumed it would be just an average Sunday. But things did not go according to plan.
The next time he looked next door, Barag noticed his neighbor lying in the grass next to his house.
“My initial thought was that he maybe just was laying down in the shade,” Barag said. “It was a hot day, it happens.”
But an uneasy feeling led Barag to dismiss his first reaction and check on his neighbor.
“[I] was calling his name,” he said. "All of a sudden I go up to him and his eyes are wide open and bloodshot and he wasn’t breathing.”
Barag immediately called 911. After the call went through dispatch, the 911 operator asked if he knew how to perform CPR.
“I haven’t had it since high school,” he said.
But Barag didn’t hesitate. The 911 operator walked him through the steps on his speakerphone.
“It was nice to have her there,” he said. "She kept me calm.”
Barag was on his third set of chest compressions when another neighbor came around the corner. The pair continued to perform CPR while they waited for the paramedics.
Not long after, emergency personnel arrived on the scene and found the 50-year-old neighbor in cardiac arrest. Approximately ten minutes into their care, they found that he had regained his pulse. The victim was transported to Virtua Hospital Marlton, where he is recovering. The victim’s family has requested privacy at this time.
The significance of Barag’s actions should not be taken lightly. According to the press release from Evesham Fire-Rescue, “Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can triple a victim’s chance of survival.”
Captain Carl Bittenbender from Evesham Fire-Rescue understands the importance of acting quickly.
“Chest compressions alone, even without rescue breathing, are effective at circulating blood in the body when the heart stops pumping. This action can greatly improve survivability until help arrives,” he said.
Barag had no emergency medical training and hadn’t performed CPR since his high school health class more than five years earlier.
“It was a pretty crazy situation,” Barag said. “I honestly can’t believe I kept my cool. I didn’t think, I just reacted.”
Deputy Chief Steven Addezio applauds Barag’s fast action.
“Jared’s quick thinking and willingness to get involved most likely saved his neighbor’s life,” he said. “Jared is a hero and Evesham Township is very proud of him.”
Hero? Barag wouldn’t go that far.
“I’m just his neighbor and I did my duty,” Barag said. “Any one of our neighbors would do the same thing for anybody in a heartbeat.”
A tentative ceremony recognizing the emergency responders will be held on Tuesday, July 1. An updated press release will be issued upon confirmation of the awards ceremony and responder names.