Frederica letter carrier Andrea Griffith is being lauded for her actions in helping save the life of a senior citizen.
The last thing Frederica Post Office mail carrier Andrea Griffith expected Aug. 25 was to save the life of one of her regular customers, an elderly man who lives alone.
It was more an accident of fate, Griffith feels, since she normally would have been pitching the man’s mail at a community post box instead of calling at his home.
Griffith was making her rounds at 10:15 that morning in the High Point Trailer Park near Little Heaven when, having finished at the community mail box, she went to deliver mail that required a signature. As soon as she arrived at the man’s mobile home to get his signature, she knew something was wrong.
“His car was there — he doesn’t go out a lot — but I knew he hadn’t been well,” Griffith said. Additionally, a neighbor told her he hadn’t seen the man for several days. There also was some food outside, which caused her even more concern, she said.
“I knocked on the door, and I heard the TV,” she recalled, “and then I rang the bell. I thought I heard someone calling for help, so I called again.”
The sounds from inside continued, she said.
“I didn’t know if he was saying, ‘Come in,’ or just moaning,” Griffith said.
Her heart racing, Griffith entered the mobile home to a shocking scene: at the far end of the room, the home’s owner lay on his back under a window, his arm wrapped around the leg of a table she surmised he had broken in a fall. The interior of the home already was quite warm, reflective of the hot and humid air outside.
She ran up to him, but the stricken man refused her offer of help.
“I said I was going to call 911, but he said ‘no,’” she said. Thinking his confused state was the cause of his refusal, Griffith headed for the door.
“I went outside and called anyhow,” she said.
The 911 dispatch center’s call reached EMT Jason Capps, also a resident of the mobile home park. Capps immediately headed to the stricken man’s mobile home, just a few streets over from his own home.
“I went in, assessed the situation, and gave him oxygen; he didn’t look like he was in good shape,” Capps said. The man, who Capps guessed to be in his late 70s, appeared to have been on the floor for several hours, perhaps even overnight.
“With him being of that age, and not being able to eat or get something to drink, it looked like he was slipping away,” Capps said. “He was very dehydrated and really needed some fluids.”
Emergency medical technicians from the Bowers fire company arrived in a few minutes and took the man to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital. At last report, he was still under treatment at the hospital.
While Capps and the other medical techs were treating the ailing man, a nervous Griffith remained outside.
“I was so upset, my stomach was in knots when I pulled away from there,” she said. “You don’t like to see people like that.”
Griffith didn’t tell her supervisor, Frederica Postmaster Tamara Cohee, about the emergency until she completed her rounds. Cohee had nothing but praise for what Griffith did.
“It doesn’t surprise me that Andrea did that,” she said. “She’s a very conscientious carrier and she always goes beyond what’s expected of her.”
As far as Capps is concerned, Griffith’s actions saved the man’s life.
“I think she did an excellent job in handling the situation,” he said. “If she had not stopped in there, it’s very likely that we would have found he would not have been with us any more.”
The incident should serve as a note of caution for seniors living alone, and for their neighbors and family members, Capps said.
“If you know of someone elderly, try to check in on them once in a while, keep an eye out for them,” he said. “If they fall, they may not be able to help themselves.”
The Bowers fire company plans to recognize Griffith for her actions, Capps said, as does the U.S Postal Service.
“Andrea Griffith’s efforts make us all very proud,” said postal service spokesman Ray Daiutulo. “Because of her actions, a more serious outcome was avoided.”
As for Griffith, she’s looking forward to when the man is able to return home.
“When he said he didn’t want me to call 911, I’m glad I didn’t pay attention to him,” she said.
“If he ends up being mad at me, then so be it.”
Email Jeff Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org