Sarasota officers save bishop's life during community meeting

- "I'm not a preacher," said Chief Bernadette DiPino, "but, if you wouldn't all mind, just saying a prayer right now for the individual. I don't know what's the matter."

The room grew quiet. All that could be heard were the sounds of officers trying to save a life. Thirty compressions to two breaths, only pausing for the AED to deliver a shock.

The instructions, "press, press, press, press," could be heard coming from the AED and officers worked.

"All of us were pretty much working on one brain at the time," Frank said. "We knew where we were, we knew what count we were on and we knew what we were doing."

"I don't think there was a person in that room that wasn't praying, so we had that on our side too," said Capt. Corinne Stannish.

A Sarasota minister is thankful to be alive thanks to a group of CPR-trained police officers.

Monday night, Bishop Stanford Perkins of Trinity Multicultural Church was attending a community meeting between the NAACP and the Sarasota Police Department.  It was a chance for everyone to speak openly and honestly about their concerns.
  
But, before that happened, Perkins suffered a medical emergency, leaving him unconscious with no pulse.

"Myself and another one of our detectives were standing in the back of the room and we heard a commotion," said Officer Jason Frank. "We looked over and saw a gentleman immediately go stiff."

The officers realized they had a 911 call right in front of them. "He made a large noise and then he clutched at his chest," Frank said.

Officers quickly lowered Bishop Perkins to the ground. "At some point, someone said he doesn't have a pulse," Frank recalled.
 
Soon, the entire room realized how grave the situation was.

Seconds felt like hours as people listened for the sirens. And then, finally, came the most magnificent sound: a heart beat. Perkins was breathing again.

"I am so proud of the officers and citizens back there," DiPino said to the sound of applause.

"I don't know what put us all in that same room together on that night, but it was certainly a good thing we were there for him," said Lt. Randy Boyd. "It's a calling and we were called that day."

Perkins' daughter, Latrecia Castleberry can only call the series of events a miracle.

"We just believe he was at the right place at the right time," Castleberry said. "Thank God for the police officers. Because they really put in hard work, you know."

As Bishop Perkins recovers, his family can't help but think about how lucky he is.

"We thank God for that miracle and that he's back to preach the gospel stronger than ever," Castleberry.

Bishop Perkins is well on the mend in the hospital, and hopefully, coming home Thursday. It's still not clear what actually happened to him.

Talk about timing. Sarasota police just completed CPR training in the last month. They say this is a prime example of why everyone needs to learn that lifesaving skill.

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