LYNN — Louis Stola embodied the U.S. Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus,” which translates to “Always Ready,” when he saved a man’s life on Wednesday afternoon.
Stola, 21, who is originally from Germany, joined the Coast Guard two years ago and works at the base in Boston.
After getting off work that afternoon, Stola and his wife were taking their dog to the veterinarian when they saw a heroin overdose victim passed out and unresponsive on the side of the road underneath a railway bridge on Washington Street near Munroe Street.
Stola, dressed in his Coast Guard uniform, noticed there were no emergency responders around. He drove up, rolled down his window and asked if he could be of any help. The 26-year-old victim was surrounded by a crowd of onlookers at that point, and the woman with him, who appeared to be his wife or girlfriend, was crying and more than thankful for the help.
So, Stola, a Revere resident, pulled over, ran up to the victim and did his best to revive him. The man had no pulse, felt really cold and his lips were pale, Stola said.
He was able to do the 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths, repeating that over the course of five minutes until he got the victim’s heart started, before EMTS, police and fire arrived and took over.
“I always had a heart for people and saving lives and I always wanted to do something good in life and help others as much as I could,” Stola said.
The incident marked the first time Stola performed CPR on a person. He took a class at the Boston base, but up until that point, had only performed it on test dummies. He usually carries a can of Narcan, or Naloxone, the lifesaving overdose drug, but didn’t have one on him this time.
Despite the preparation, he said seeing the overdose victim was shocking.
“At first, I was scared,” he said. “I felt very nervous, but this time it wasn’t a test dummy. It was a real human being in front of me. I just did what I was told and (was) praying for Jesus and hoping he would come back while I was performing CPR.”
Holly Shorten, who works at the Lynn Public Schools, witnessed the save, which happened around 12:30 p.m. She said the incident happened fast — the victim was pulled out of his car by his wife or girlfriend when she saw him overdosing and put him on the ground near the car.
Shorten said Stola was the only person who stopped to help, noting that people kept driving by or simply gathered near the victim. She described Stola as a true professional serviceman who automatically responded as if he was a first responder.
“It was quite a thing to see,” Shorten said. “He wasn’t giving up. It was amazing. It was incredible to see. He was going to save that guy and that was it.”
Narcan was administered to the victim by Lynn Fire, according to Lynn Police Lt. Michael Kmiec.
The man, who has a New Hampshire address, overdosed from heroin and regained consciousness after he was given Narcan and was taken to Union Hospital, Kmiec said.