Off-duty West Springfield officer saved man’s life

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A West Springfield police officer is being hailed as a hero, for saving a man’s life while he wasn’t even on duty.

Officer Joseph LaFrance sprang into action to help a man in need while he was on an annual vacation with friends in Newport, Rhode Island. He was out walking on July 14, when he saw a woman running up the street, screaming for help.

LaFrance and his co-worker, Officer Mike Gonnello, immediately followed her to a house, where her husband was lying at the bottom of the stairs. He had suffered from a major head injury, was not breathing, and there was blood coming out of his ears.

“We ran down there without hesitation, not really knowing what the problem was, so it just kind of kicked-in. The training and experience just kicked-in, and I reacted,” LaFrance said.

It took six minutes of unrelenting CPR before the man started gasping for air.

Usually, rescuers should take turns every two minutes, but LaFrance wasn’t going to stop until he saved the man’s life.

“It happened so quickly, it was instinct,” LaFrance said.

Whether they are in a uniform or not, a first responder is always ready to jump into a situation and help.

“You have to understand that the mentality of the people that get involved as first responders- whether it’s police, fire, or EMS, it’s basically in our heart, it’s in our soul. It’s what we do,” said David Pelletier, regional director for American Medical Response.

LaFrance told 22News that he is looking forward to meeting the man he saved in the next couple of months.