DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Friday, October 9, 2015, is a day Ashley Williams will never, ever forget. Ashley is a single mom raising her 2-year-old son Corbyn while going to school full-time at S.L.U. in Hammond. During the day Ashley holds down a near full-time job delivering pizzas in the Walker area for Dominos.
Friday, October 9, 2015, while driving, looking for a delivery address, a man ran to her car screaming "Call 911! Call 911! He's not breathing!"
Ashley made the call and was instructed by the 911 operator to stay on the phone but go into the man's home. Go into a stranger's home? Ashley didn't know what she was going to walk into, but her instinct told her it was safe and probably okay to go in.
Upon entering the kitchen, she was stunned to see a man passed out on the floor, blue lips, pale face, obviously not breathing.
After telling the 911 operator about the unconscious man, she put down the phone and immediately began chest compressions. You see, Ashley had taken a year-long CPR class.
"I heard cracking noises and thought I was hurting him more," Ashley told WAFB. Remembering from her CPR courses, cracking a sternum or rib is often a byproduct of CPR.
So she continued chest compressions. Once in a while the unresponsive man would gasps. Ashley thought something must be working right.
Livingston Parish Fire District 5 Chief Joe Koczrowski was the first responder to arrive. The 'friend' who originally flagged Ashley down, told Chief Koczrowski that his friend on the floor had overdosed on 'something.'
Chief Koczrowski immediately administered the drug Norcan, a medication specifically designed to immediately reverse the effects of most drug overdoses if administered within a very few minutes of loss of consciousness.
"If you had not begun CPR when you did," the chief told Ashley, "this young man would most certainly have died."
Ashley's selfless act of performing CPR on this stranger bought enough time for first responders to arrive and administer Norcan.
Sure enough, within a few minutes the gentleman was sitting up, breathing and speaking to the small group assembled in his kitchen.
But there's a "Part II" to this story.
Fire Chief Koczrowski was so moved by Ashley Williams' efforts, he nominated her for Hand It On.
When our Hand It On team arrived at the substation in Denham Springs to record the follow-up to this incredible story, we were surprised to learn all that the chief had planned for that morning, all for Ashley Williams. It was so much more than just a Hand It On recognition.
He invited Ashley's mom and dad. They, in turn, picked up Ashley's son Corbyn. Dignitaries from the fire department were there, as was Livingston Parish president Layton Ricks. Even the operating partner of the Walker Dominos, Christina Cash, was there supporting this awesome employee.
The fire department presented Ashley with a beautiful plaque. The parish president presented Ashley with an Outstanding Citizen Award. And then Chief Joe Koczrowski gave Ashley $300 cash from the WAFB Hand It On team.
"You did a wonderful job of saving this guy's life," the chief began. "We need more people like you," his comments directed at Ashley Williams.
And before the morning's festivities had concluded, Chief Koczrowski gave us an update on the young man Ashley administered CPR to on that fateful Friday.
"He's out of the hospital and recovering fine," the chief stated. But the best part, chief continued, "he's actually in the Tau Center going through rehab right now, and that's all because of you Ashley."
We need more people like you, Ashley Williams. We certainly do!