Woman meets Cleveland firefighters who saved her life

Orenda Williams and her 6-year-old son Ovaughney, met Cleveland firefighters (left to right) Zack Harkness, Doug Castleberry, Roger Brooks and Tyler Johnson Wednesday night at the Cleveland fire station. A year ago, these firefighters, along with Roberto Martinez, answered a 911 call that saved Orenda's life.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

A 27-year-old woman who nearly died from cardiac arrest last January met the Cleveland firefighters who saved her on Wednesday.

Orenda Williams Manuel remembers very little about the day she almost died. She says her husband, David Manuel, found her lying on the living room floor and called 911 for help.

Four minutes later, Cleveland firefighters – Chief Roger Brooks, Capt. Doug Castleberry and firefighters Zack Harkness, Tyler Johnson and Roberto Martinez – arrived at her house on S. Holly Ave.

Harkness said originally it was thought that she might have had an asthma attack or had choked on something.

“It was strange situation with her heart because she is very young,” Harkness said.

Harkness, Johnson and Castleberry began performing CPR on her until Liberty County EMS medics Boyd Miller and Stephen Harbeck arrived. The young mother was taken to Kingwood Hospital where doctors performed a number of tests to diagnose the medical condition that caused the heart attack.

“They did numerous tests but were never able to actually pinpoint what happened. They still don’t know why I had a heart attack,” she said.

Orenda worries that it might happen again and talking about the near-death experience makes her emotional.

“I didn’t know until today who responded. I just wanted to come meet the people and tell them thank you,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

For the firefighters, getting to see the impact their actions had on a life goes a long way. Fire Chief Sean Anderson, a veteran firefighter, says he can list on one hand the number of people he has met after a life-saving moment in their lives. Anderson and the other firefighters say they aren’t looking for more people to say thanks, but it is nice when someone takes the time to meet them.

“We directly impacted somebody. We normally don’t get to see that. Helping people is what we all signed up for, being able to impact lives. This is why we became firefighters,” said Firefighter Tyler Johnson.

Anderson added, “What we are taught is once the call is over, you move on. If you are on a medical call and drop someone off at the hospital, that is the end of that call.”

The firefighters learned Wednesday that she recently gave birth to her fifth child, a young son named Ostyn, a child who would not be alive today had Orenda’s life not been saved by the firefighters, medics and physicians. Orenda and her husband, David, are also parents of Ovaughney, Omari, Olijah and Maudie.

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