Capitol Police Officer Nicholas Simons was standing guard inside the Hart Senate Office Building around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday when a pedestrian ran inside and alerted him that a man appeared to be having a heart attack on the sidewalk.
Simons, 27, hustled outside and found the man in question reclined on a big stone bench along Constitution Avenue.
"He was laid back ... his arms were stretched out ... they appeared to be moving and quivering," the cop told CQ Roll Call on Thursday, recounting the life-saving actions that earned him a hero's praise around Capitol Hill. "You could definitely see he was under duress from his eyes."
Simons performed CPR and used the automated external defibrillator, provided by one of his fellow officers, to jolt the man's heart back into rhythm. After a few cycles of resuscitating breaths and compressions, the victim appeared to be breathing. Simmons said it's the only time he's ever used his skills on a live human, and he was quick to point out that the live-saving mission was a team effort.
"I was nervous as anyone would be," he said, "But I'm really glad that I had the opportunity to get such training and skills that the department has given me and other officers ... Somehow that takes over and the repetition really does mean something."
He credited the team's quick response as key to saving the man's life.
Simons, who has been with the department since 2011, received standard CPR training as a recruit, but was inspired to sharpen his skills. He got certified as a CPR instructor after a personal experience. One of his best friends off the job used his CPR skills to save a choking infant.
"It was really amazing," Simons said. "The story that he had for me really touched me somewhere and made me say, 'you know I need to sharpen my skills and make sure that I'm ... tip-top and can give someone a fighting chance if I'm ever called upon.'"
Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine said in a statement to CQ Roll Call that he was extremely proud of all the officers for their swift response to render aid during a medical emergency. "This was a true team effort, and Officer Nicholas Simons is commended for his quick & heroic actions in saving another man's life."