Detroit Maintenance Manager Rio Publico and Detroit Lead Stores Clerk Ann Jones have worked together since 2011, and have always had a good rapport, both in and out of the office. Last fall, the two were attending a group training session at GoJet’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, when the unthinkable happened. While on a break, Ann and Rio were walking to a local grocery store, when Rio went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
“I don’t remember this,” Rio says, “but Ann told me that I stopped, told her to hold on, and then I collapsed.” Ann called 911, and the dispatcher told Ann that she would have to restart Rio’s heart while paramedics were en route. “As soon as he said that, I started freaking out,” Ann remembers. “Because it hadn’t dawned on me until that point that there was a possibility that he could die. I’d received CPR training in the past, but had never had to use it.”
The dispatcher walked Ann through what to do, and Rio took a deep breath just before paramedics arrived. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he regained consciousness over an hour later. When he woke up, Ann was the first person that he asked for.
While Rio was in the hospital, Ann personally called Rio’s wife, Donna, to let her know what had happened. “I know how unnerving it is to receive an unexpected phone call from a hospital,” Ann said. “I wanted her to hear the news from a friendly voice.” Ann looked after Rio during his recovery, and still keeps an eye on his health. “I made sure that he only ate healthy foods, and I still do to this day. Donna only sends him healthy food for lunch, and I make sure that he eats it all.”
Both Rio and Donna consider Ann to be his guardian angel. Incredibly, Rio’s heart attack in St. Louis was not the first time that Ann has saved his life. A few years ago, Ann had to call 911 when Rio had a stroke at work. “We were laughing and talking with our boss in the room,” Ann recalls, “when suddenly, Rio told me to call 911. At first, I thought that he was joking. Then he yelled at me to call, because he couldn’t feel his arm.”
“I started stuttering, my side started tingling, and my speech was slurring,” Rio adds. “If Ann hadn’t been there both times, I may have sustained permanent, physical damage, or not even be alive today. She has been a real saving grace.”
Ann jokes that she is not ready for Rio to experience another medical emergency any time soon. “Both of these situations were very scary – I could use a break,” she laughs.