BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo police officer Jennifer Whitaker, an eight-year veteran of the force, will never forget her trip on Oct. 12th to Las Vegas.
About an hour outside Sin City, a woman aboard went into cardiac arrest. No signs of breathing. No pulse.
Whitaker, who had never before performed CPR, leapt to action, and allowed her training — and her overall desire to help people — to take over.
What arrived in the mail a few weeks later wasn’t the first letter of commendation for Buffalo Police officer Jennifer Whitaker.
And you can bet, it won’t be the last.
“I hear someone yelling from behind me, ‘Someone help this lady, someone help this lady!” Whitaker remembered.
From the middle seat six rows up, pillow in hand, headphones in ears, Whitaker was among the first to respond to the woman who was lying in the aisle. For the first time in her career, Whitaker performed CPR, and brought the woman back to life.
How she did it is how she performs her duty everyday, says E District Chief Carmen Menza.
“Whether it’s us here at the station or the folks out on the street, she always leaves a good impression on people,” Menza said. “Obviously, when the situation occurs, she rises to the occasion and she saved somebody’s life.”
“It was a sigh of relief, and I was just like, ‘Thank you Jesus for using me,'” Whitaker said.
The letter of commendation, from Niagara County District Attorney Ted Brenner was clear.
“You would have been so proud of your officer when she later went back to check on the woman and the woman just hugged her and sobbed and said thank you over and over,” Brenner wrote. “Officer Whitaker’s actions were stunningly bold and decisive, and, simply put, she saved that woman’s life.”
Despite her heroics, Whitaker’s smile showed relief last week, and a genuine appreciation for maybe not just another day at the office.
“Just anything I can do to make someone smile, or to help them in any kind of way, make them feel protected,” Whitaker said. “That’s what we do, we protect and serve. We’re here to protect the people.”
Officer Whitaker is set to be recognized for her quick actions at an upcoming common council meeting, yet another accolade for her growing personnel file.