On Aug. 15, Dolores DuMond, 77, had just been seated to lunch in the Garden Room of the Tavern at the Beekman Arms when she suddenly felt short of breath.
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It was her brother-in-law’s 94th birthday, DuMond said. “I was treating him and my sister to lunch.”
The Hudson, Columbia County, resident recalled the restaurant happened to be crowded that day — a fortunate thing, as it turned out.
“Once I sat down at the table, I felt breathless,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ll be fine in a few minutes.’ Then, I heard this buzzing in my ears. I could see a darkness coming into my field of vision.”
Then, she said, all went black.
Sitting at a nearby table was 48-year-old Rhinebeck resident Brian Hutchins, who was having a business luncheon with seven of his co-workers.
“We were eating, and the next thing I knew, someone was calling out for help,” he said.
When Hutchins turned to look, he saw DuMond slumped forward at her table. A few seconds later, he said, she fell to the floor. He and others rushed to help.
“We thought she was choking, so we checked her mouth,” Hutchins said.
But she hadn’t swallowed anything. She hadn’t ordered her food. DuMond stopped breathing a few seconds later, he said.
Hutchins and two women — one, he thought to be a nurse visiting from out of town — cleared the room and began to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“They started doing chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” he said. “I ran to the desk and asked if they had an AED.”
Luckily for DuMond, a machine had been donated to the restaurant a year or so earlier by the Heart Safe Club of Rhinebeck.
“I grabbed it, ran back and we opened it up,” Hutchins said.
Following the steps provided by automated voice instructions, they applied electrode pads to DuMond’s chest and the machine delivered a life-saving shock.
“Within seconds, she started coughing and choking,” he said.
An ambulance arrived minutes later from Northern Dutchess Hospital.
“She wasn’t breathing,” Hutchins said. “If it wasn’t for the defibrillator, I don’t think she would have survived.”
Hutchins dismissed any notion of being a hero in saving DuMond’s life.