By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — Marcie Martellucci, a veteran of the restaurant industry and manager within Salvatore Restaurants’ chain for five years, has a new title to add to her resume: life saver.
Martellucci is credited with saving a customer’s life on Tuesday after he went into cardiac arrest while setting up for an event at Salvatore Restaurants’ location in downtown Andover that afternoon.
“We had a gentleman coming in for a private party in our back room. He was setting up,” Martellucci said. “I ran into the office to grab something and as I went out, one of the servers in the kitchen yelled for me.”
When Martellucci got back into the back room, the customer was lying on the ground. He wasn’t breathing, he had no pulse and the clock was ticking.
As staff called 911, “I had one of the patrons in the restaurant help me, and he came over and we administered CPR until police, fire and ambulance got there,” Martellucci said.
The initial call went out at 4:40 p.m. Four minutes later, police and fire got on the scene. An automatic external defibrillator was set up and a shock was administered to the man, Andover Fire Chief Mike Mansfield said.
“We shocked him and the patient, after being shocked, was what we refer to as ‘converted,’” Mansfield said.
The man, described as a 65 year old who lives out of state, was transported to Lawrence General Hospital. He later went to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for double-bypass surgery and is recovering, Martellucci said. His identity and condition weren’t available yesterday.
Since the incident, life at work has been business as usual. When asked if she’s been getting congratulated by colleagues and customers, she said workers were talking about it, but “there are no customers congratulating. They didn’t know. It hasn’t been out there.”
As news of Martellucci’s feat moved through the community yesterday, a form of finger pointing started. Martellucci credits the speediness of the police and fire response for bringing the customer back to earth.
Mansfield, on the other hand, said Martellucci is the real hero.
“The bottom line is the sooner the patient who is in distress gets any type of medical care or intervention, along the way of manual compressions or breathing, they’re going to increase the person’s chance for survival,” he said.
After a person goes down, every minute that passes shaves 10 percent off of the person’s odds of surviving the incident, Mansfield said.
Police and fire crews took four minutes to get to the restaurant. It was a fast response, but it would have given the man a 60 percent chance at life — had Martellucci not acted immediately.
“She needs to be commended,” Mansfield said. “Most people in that situation wouldn’t know what to do and certainly wouldn’t step in to intervene.”
Martellucci, however, isn’t “most people.” Past experience helped give her the awareness to respond, she said.
A few years ago, before Salvatore’s Andover location was even up for discussion, Martellucci worked out of the chain’s Lawrence location. She wasn’t on at the time, but she recalled another manager going through a similar situation.
“Watching another general manager go and take the actions to try to save somebody, it just turned around and made me realize how to handle it,” she said.
Martellucci said she was also aided by choke and CPR training provided through the company — tools she never thought she would use, but ended up making a life-saving impact Tuesday night.
“It didn’t even cross my mind. I just ran right over and wanted to make sure he was OK and make sure where he was,” Martellucci said. “There was no questions asked. It was time to do it.”
Local restaurants and businesses interested in providing similar training to employees can contact the Andover Police and Fire departments for courses in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Mansfield said.
Similar programs are also available through the American Red Cross and American Heart Association, according to Mansfield.