HAMMOND — An Indiana state trooper is being credited for saving a woman's life Saturday night after she became pinned between her vehicle and a toll booth on the Indiana Toll Road.
ISP Trooper Ala'a Hamed responded to a crash just before 9:20 p.m. Saturday in the westbound lanes one mile east of the Illinois-Indiana border to find a 40-year-old woman from Otsego, Michigan trapped between the driver's side and the toll booth.
The woman was unconscious and had no pulse, said Hamed, who is in his fourth year as a state trooper.
"In these situations, seconds matter. Everything is moving at a million miles a minute, and as law enforcement, we fall back on our training and experience. It's about slowing down and assessing the scene and figuring out what we need to do. I know she needed to be removed from where she was pinned," Hamed said Sunday night.
Hamed said he asked a bystander and toll attendant to hold onto the woman while he moved her vehicle. Once freed, the woman was placed on her back, and Hamed reassessed her vitals and again found she had no pulse, state police said.
Hamed said he applied his portable Automated External Defibrillator kit to her body, which indicated it could not locate a pulse and prompted him to start CPR.
While issuing CPR, Hammond paramedics arrived on scene, he said.
While the woman was still hooked up to the AED and on the EMS stretcher, the AED activated twice, resuscitating her, according to an Indiana State Police news release.
She was taken to Franciscan Hospital in Hammond and later airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
As of Sunday afternoon, the woman remained in critical condition, according to ISP spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas.
A witness said they saw the woman, prior to the crash, open her door to retrieve her debit card that had fallen to the ground while paying for a toll.
As the woman began searching for the debit card, she put her leg out between her car and the toll booth, and the Buick lurched forward. The woman became wedged between the open car door and the yellow waist-high toll box the toll gate is mounted to, police stated.
"A witness pushed the help button at the toll gate and tried to open the passenger door, but it was locked. The woman at this time was awake and speaking, but the car moved forward two more times, each time wedging her further into the box," the release stated.
The witness and another man were able to get the passenger window down and place the Buick in park, when shortly thereafter Hamed and a toll attendant arrived.
State police credited Hamed's use of the AED for saving her life.
"Most victims need an electronic shock called defibrillation to restore the heart to a regular rhythm. By placing these devices in the hands of first responders and trained individuals in public locations we increase their chance of survival," the release stated.
Hamed thanked the two bystanders who assisted, Hammond paramedics and state police for supplying his squad car with the AED kit.
Since joining the force, Hamed has led or assisted during numerous lifesaving efforts on the state highways and toll roads, including serious or fatal crashes.
"Every day, we go out and we put on our badge and vest, but we never know what to expect," Hamed said.