SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 14, 2014

Peabody officer commended for helping save a life

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — PEABODY — The last thing 58-year-old David Silveira remembers before waking up in a room in Salem Hospital last month is that he was snowblowing his driveway when a young man approached him about having his carpets cleaned to pay for a scholarship.

“Through the conversation, I went down, and I woke up in the hospital,” said Silveira, who suffered a heart attack late in the afternoon of Feb. 18.

“Thank God for the police and fire departments,” said Silveira, a machinist who works for Magellan Aerospace in Haverhill and who is home recuperating after having an defibrillator implanted in his abdomen to treat irregular heartbeats.

“I’m talking to you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been,” he said.

One of those who helped save Silveira’s life is Peabody Patrolman Matthew Stark.

Yesterday, the department announced that Stark is being commended for saving the grandfather of four, who went into full cardiac and respiratory arrest outside his Beckett Street home.

“Officer Stark’s calm demeanor under pressure helped save Mr. Silveira’s life,” wrote acting Peabody police Chief Robert St. Pierre. “There is not a greater service one can perform than to save another person’s life. Officer Stark is to be commended for his efforts, and professionalism, as his actions are in keeping with the highest standards of the Peabody Police Department.”

“I got singled out,” said Stark, 47, “but the credit goes to the family because the key ... is immediate CPR, followed by early defibrillator if it’s available, but the key is bystander CPR.”

Just a few minutes can make a difference, Stark said.

“The credit really goes to the family and the neighbors,” Stark said. “They kept their heads, they stayed cool, and they called right away ... they had the wherewithal to do CPR right away, and they were doing good CPR.”

The call came in to police at 5:38 p.m. for a medical emergency and a man down in full cardiac arrest. When Stark arrived, people were performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Silveira.

“Once we verified that he was in cardiac arrest,” Stark said, “I got the defibrillator out and immediately attached it and turned it on. It advised that a shock was advised, and I administered the shock.” Every police cruiser in Peabody comes equipped with a defibrillator, Stark said.

Family and bystanders continued to perform CPR, Stark said. The Fire Department arrived and took over performing CPR. Then paramedics arrived and “initiated their advanced life support skills, and by the time that gentleman was put in the back of the ambulance, he was starting to come to,” Stark said.

Silveira said many people helped save his life: his wife, his neighbor, his son and daughter, emergency personnel and the young salesman.

“I myself, I was out cold,” Silveira said. “I was on my way to meet my maker.”

Silveira’s wife of 37 years, Filomena Silveira, 56, a nurse, was home taking care of one of her grandchildren while her husband was using the snowblower with his son, David Jr.

When the salesman came to the door, she told him to speak with her husband.

“Thirty seconds later, he (the young man) was banging on the door, ‘Your husband is outside,’” she said.

A neighbor, Ann MacDonald, who works as a medical assistant, was performing chest compressions. The Silveiras’ daughter, Melissa Guimaraes, who lives across the street, was performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

After her husband was shocked, “I heard someone say, ‘He’s breathing,’” Filomena Silveira said.

The grandparents of four, ranging in age from 1 to 6, with another on its way in a couple of weeks, are thankful for everyone who helped save Silveira.

“I don’t even know how to thank him,” Filomena Silveira said of Stark.

Stark has been a full-time Peabody police officer since 1999 and was first hired for the reserves in 1996. Prior to being hired in the Peabody Police Department, he was an EMT for 11 years, working for LifeLine Ambulance in the North Shore area.

St. Pierre commended Stark for his “attention to duty and devotion to duty.” He’ll get one day of compensatory time, and the letter will be permanently placed in his personnel file.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.