Marlon Portillo saves life of seizing man
Senior Marlon Portillo recertified himself in CPR in late January, but little did he know that two weeks later, that he would be using his credentials to resuscitate a dying man.
It was a casual Wednesday lunch on Feb. 1, Portillo said, when he was waiting in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s. He then saw the driver in a Ford Fusion ahead of him appear “shaky.” Portillo said he did not think much of it until he saw the Ford bump into a Mercedes parked in the lot.
The owner of the Mercedes came running back and started hitting on the man’s window, Portillo said. That is when Portillo got out of his car.
Portillo asked the man in the Ford to open the door to his car and asked if he was okay. When the man responded “no,” Portillo knew something was wrong.
“His head was looking to his right the whole time and was going in circles … his eyes were kind of going behind his head in a way,” Portillo said.
The owner of the Mercedes proceeded to call 911.
At this point, Portillo knew the man was going to have a seizure, so he placed the man down on his side.
“A bunch of foam kept coming out [of his mouth], and his face got, like, blue and purple. I noticed that his throat, in a way, popped out weirdly,” Portillo said.
Portillo checked for a pulse, but could not feel one.
Another man stepped out of his car to help Portillo and the owner of the Mercedes. Portillo began performing CPR compressions on the man.
On the 30th compression, Portillo said, the man regained air.
“I thought to myself ‘thank God this just happened,’” Portillo said.
Seniors Nathan Martinez, Luis Caballero and Caleb Kondo were on their way to McDonald’s when they recognized Portillo at the incident scene. Martinez parked Marlon’s car, and Kondo flagged down the firefighters upon hearing the sirens.
Martinez then helped Portillo hold down the man as he “could not control himself” after the seizure.
When the man started breathing again, blood came out of his mouth, Portillo said.
A passing bicyclist stopped by and began helping, remaining calm throughout the entire scene. When the firefighters arrived, Portillo realized the bicyclist was an off-duty paramedic.
“Me, as a Christian, I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason. I thought that at that moment that was literally, that was all God. He had all the control,” Portillo said.
Later that night, Portillo said he became sick and could not sleep all night.
“The event just kept playing in my head … It was really tough, the next couple of days and the following week. Every time I closed my eyes I think of the man’s face, of how purple and blue it was,” Portillo said.
Portillo said his teachers and the staff, particularly student advocate Steve Schmidt, helped him deal with the trauma.
“I was so proud of them,” Schmidt said. “I was shocked that it happened, and how hard it must have been for them to deal with and how well they handled it.”
Portillo was presented with the Medal of Courage, the second-highest honor, from his church ministry.
“I am excited and shocked. I never thought I would earn a top-ten medal [from the ministry] … this is a once in a lifetime [event],” Portillo said.
Portillo remains open to speak about the event, but he said he is not seeking any further recognition following what he did.
“He likes to be in the process of helping other people,” Schmidt said. “That’s just who he is.”