At about midnight July 8, Evelyn Cahue, a casual longshore worker, sat in her car at the Long Beach APL Terminal parking lot finishing her lunch break. Longshoreman Terry Bullock backed in next to her, exited his car and suddenly passed out, falling onto her driver’s side door and windshield. Cahue jumped out of her car immediately administering chest compressions to Bullock.
“I was sitting in my car … and got startled by someone falling onto my driver’s side window, [he] then slid down slowly, his face pressed against the window and I knew I had to do something fast,” Cahue said. “He’s a big guy so it was hard to open the door with him still on it. I pushed with all my strength and he fell to the ground between our cars. I yelled, ‘Are you OK?’”
Cahue shook him and checked for a pulse and for breathing. Nothing. She checked again. Nothing. She started compressions and yelled for help and for someone to call 911. Several longshoremen who were arriving back from their lunch break heard her and called 911 as she continued compressions.
“In less than two minutes Bullock moved his head and was disoriented but conscious,” Cahue said.
The 38-year-old Bullock was lucky. Cahue is also a certified respiratory therapist at the West Los Angeles Veteran’s Administration. Cahue said that at that moment he was dead, but as she kept “putting compressions” on him, Bullock came to life. Medical technicians soon arrived and transported him to the hospital.
It’s a great story, Cahue said, because not only did Bullock survive but the casuals from Local 13 are usually looked at like “peons.” But a casual saved the life of a “Book Man” — the highest position. Bullock is a crane mechanic and on that night he was driving a top handler.
Bullock’s wife, Harmony, left a note on Cahue’s car when she returned to pick up his car. She wrote that her husband didn’t suffer any brain damage because Cahue immediately started chest compressions.
Bullock said he felt weird that night. He went to visit his sister, who lives near Holy Trinity Church in San Pedro for his lunch break. As he drove back to work, he said he felt strange and “tingly.” His hands felt clammy. This happened to him before on two occasions, both times on an airplane. He knew the signs. He was able to control his physical reactions the second time by requesting ice from the flight attendant. Bullock applied it to his neck and the episode passed.
However, that night by the time he reached the APL Terminal he felt dizzy and as though he was having hot flashes. He almost started hyperventilating. He parked next to Cahue and got out of the car to get fresh air. He said his legs felt like rubber and his equilibrium was off. The next thing he knew, he woke up on the ground with a bunch of people around him and he had no idea what happened in between.
Bullock fell to the ground landing on his shoulder, dislocating it and his head bounced off the asphalt. That’s where Cahue came in. Bullock said he couldn’t understand why, the next day, he felt like someone had been jumping on his chest.
“To me, this woman is an angel,” Bullock said. “What were the odds of me just happening to park where I did, fainting right by her and her just basically saving my life? I owe her forever.”
Bullock noted that if he had pulled in facing the same direction as her, Cahue said she would have never seen him.
“I guess it wasn’t my time to go,” he said. “I’ve still got some work to do. I’m just really grateful to be alive.”
Bullock and his wife have four young children. He is an alumnus of San Pedro High School, where he played football. He also volunteers as a coach at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower and does college recruiting for the football players. Cahue said Bullock also wants to mentor her son who loves football.
Bullock will be following up with a cardiologist.