After Claudia Stanley heard the crash and saw a young man lying in the road outside her office Friday, she knew she had to act.

The man wasn’t breathing and had no pulse as Stanley knelt on the ground next to him and started CPR. He had been injured in a car accident on Congress Street that knocked down a set of traffic lights and left the road covered in debris.

Though Stanley has been a nurse for 35 years, it was the first time in her career that she had to perform emergency CPR.

“He looked like he had gone without a pulse for a while because his color was bad,” she said. “I was thinking ‘stay alive, stay alive.’ I didn’t want this guy to die on me.”

Stanely and Erika Nielsen, her co-worker at Granite Bay Care, performed CPR on the man until an ambulance arrived. They said the man was speaking to first responders as he was loaded into the ambulance to be taken to the hospital.

It was the second time in as many days that Granite Bay Care employees rendered first aid at accident scenes before first responders arrived.

On Thursday, Elizabeth Sullivan, director of operations for Granite Bay Care, provided first aid to a man whose arm was bleeding following a car crash on River Road in Windham.

Ken Olson, executive director of Granite Bay Care, which provides support to adults with developmental disabilities, said the company provides first aid and CPR training to all of its 320 employees in southern Maine.


“All of GBC’s staff are provided with countless hours of training in order to prepare them to manage potential crisis situations involving the individuals in our care, and today as an organization we are very proud that a few of our extraordinary staff were able to draw upon their skills and knowledge in helping members of our community,” he said.

Stanley completed training to become a CPR instructor last month, while Nielsen has been teaching first aid and CPR at Granite Bay Care for about a year. Sullivan also is a CPR instructor.

Portland Police Lt. James Sweatt said Lawrence Bowie, 28, crashed his Jeep Liberty after ingesting narcotics and driving erratically on Congress Street. The Jeep struck a signal pole that supports traffic lights and several signs, causing more than $20,000 in property damage. Police did not know Bowie’s hometown.

After being released from the hospital, Bowie was charged with operating under the influence, driving to endanger and violating bail conditions. He was being held at the Cumberland County Jail on Friday night. His bail hadn’t been set.

Stanley said she didn’t stop to think before rushing out of the office around 11 a.m. Friday after hearing the crash. There were others already on the scene calling 911, but none knew CPR, so she jumped in. Within minutes, Nielsen was assisting with chest compressions.

By the time EMTs arrived, Bowie had a pulse and his color was improving, Stanley said. She was relieved to see Bowie was breathing and speaking before being rushed from the scene.


“It was exhilarating,” she said when she saw he was breathing again. “There is no better high than realizing you have actually been able to do something to help someone.”

It was also the first time Nielsen has used her CPR skills in an emergency.

“You train and you train and never know if or when you’ll have to use it in real life,” she said. “To see it work and see a positive outcome for someone, that’s what you want. There’s no better feeling than to know someone is going to be OK.”

Nielsen said she encourages everyone to get CPR training.

“There’s no knowing when or how you’ll need to use it, but when the time comes, you’ll sure be glad,” she said.

Sullivan, who helped at the Windham accident scene, said she is “incredibly proud” that Nielsen and Stanley were able to help Bowie.

“They’re huge heroes for this,” she said.

Two hours after the accident, Stanley still couldn’t quite believe what had happened. The adrenaline had faded, but her voice was thick with emotion as she talked about helping someone in dire need of emergency care.

“Erika and I had the best day ever,” Stanley said. “This is better than anything on my bucket list.”