As Erin Martinek made the turn onto Southwest Salmon Street outside the Multnomah County Courthouse, she saw a woman being pulled out of a car and dragged down the street.
“Honestly, I thought she was being kidnapped,” Martinek said.
It was a bizarre thought, Martinek would later recount.
What played out in front of her on February 28, 2019 remains one of the most poignant moments in Martinek’s six year career in law enforcement. She is a fulltime Investigator for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. She previously worked as a patrol deputy for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Martinek jumped from her car – thinking that she would be saving the young woman from being taken against her will.
“I knew something was wrong because her body was limp,” Martinek said.
Soon, Martinek realized this wasn’t a crime scene but rather a medical emergency.
“I saw people around her and one of them was yelling, ‘She’s blue! She’s blue! She’s not breathing!’ and so I told them that I was a police officer.” Martinek said.
Training and experience took over. She gave loud, authoritative directions.
“I wasn’t the nicest, but I went back into police mode and just started giving people commands,” Martinek said.
Call 9-1-1, she told a person. Find a plastic bag, she yelled to someone else. Martinek needed a protective barrier. Go get an AED, she shouted to a third person.
“All I kept thinking was 30 and 2…30 and 2,” Martinek said, recounting her training for conventional CPR using chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing at a ratio of 30:2 compressions-to-breaths.
The woman on the phone with 9-1-1 stayed by Martinek’s side the entire time. She was relaying information to emergency dispatchers in real-time with updates from the scene.
“Really, the true hero in this is Judge Bottomly,” Martinek said.
The person who called 9-1-1 was Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Leslie G. Bottomly.
Judge Bottomly had just finished up a hearing about 15 minutes earlier and left the courthouse to get some fresh air. It was a cold but sunny Thursday morning in downtown.
“She’s the one who found this young woman and paid attention enough to say, ‘Hey! Something’s wrong with that girl in that car,’” Martinek said.
Judge Bottomly and others got into the car and pulled the woman out, which is when Martinek pulled up.
Martinek gave continuous CPR for about five minutes. Once helped arrived, the CPR continued for several more minutes and other lifesaving efforts were administered until paramedics transported the woman to a hospital in critical condition. Despite everyone’s efforts to save the young woman, she died.
“It’s heartbreaking and it will be something that sticks with me forever,” Martinek said. “I’ve never done CPR by myself or I’ve never been the only person on scene who knows how to do CPR. I felt a little helpless. I felt like we were alone.”
The sounds of sirens from responding police officers and firefighters soon drowned out the downtown traffic and crying that Martinek recalls hearing as she gave CPR.
“This was really emotional for a lot of people. This isn’t something most people expect to see in the middle of downtown Portland” she said. “I just kept yelling, ‘It’s okay! Help is going to be here! They’re going to help us!’”
Backup stampeded Martinek’s way.
A half-block to the west was the Multnomah County Circuit Courthouse. Inside, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Facility Security Officer Program Supervisor Chris Austin, Corrections Sgt. Barrett Taylor, Deputy Tamari Johnson heard the emergency call out over their police radios and were simultaneously alerted to the situation through the Pulse Point app, which sends a push-alert to someone’s phone if they are in the vicinity of a cardiac emergency being dispatched to police and firefighters.
The deputy sheriffs responded from the courthouse with an automated external defibrillator (AED). Deputy Austin started assisting with CPR and cutting off the woman’s clothing to make sure they could get the AED connected.
“I remember when the firefighters stood over me and said that they were going to take over and there was this enormous amount of relief,” Martinek said.
Martinek said this story would not have happened were it not for Judge Bottomly.
“Her awareness was incredible,” Martinek said. “She saw this a young woman slumped over in a car, non-responsive. I don’t know if I would have seen it just walking down the street. I don’t know if others would have seen it and just thought, ‘Oh, she’s just sleeping’ and kept walking.”
Martinek said what she did was instinctual – that anyone with her training would have done the exact same thing.
“We were all just put there in the right time and at the right place for a purpose.”
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has eight (8) fulltime investigators, all of whom have had law enforcement training and certification through either the State of Oregon or another state agency. The DA Investigators helps Deputy District Attorneys (DDA) locate and personally serve subpoenas for victims and witnesses for grand jury proceedings, motion hearings and trial. In addition, the investigator identifies and obtains recorded jail phone calls at the request of the DDA, retrieves evidence and helps edit audio and video evidence for trial and other pretrial matters. DA Investigators attends investigative briefings with law enforcement agencies, assist with pretrial negotiations, and conduct witness interviews at the request of DDAs. DA Investigators, under the direction of the case DDA, perform surveillance/observation on pending investigations and complete investigative work once a case is referred to our office by law enforcement.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office encourages members of the community to take CPR training classes.