VENTNOR — Jeff George doesn’t want to hear that he may have brought an elderly man back from the dead on the day before Easter at the Acme Markets on Wellington Avenue.

“I saw something, I responded,” said George, who received CPR training from the American Red Cross as the owner of Atlantic City Cruises, out of Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City. “I wasn’t nervous.”

A little before 8 a.m. Saturday, George, 51, of Ventnor, was at the Acme shopping for Easter Sunday and the week. He was there before crowds showed up.

While standing in the checkout line with his groceries, he noticed the elderly man, who was right in front of him. His breathing was labored. He took a seat in front of the cashier and removed his mask, George said on Sunday.

One of the Acme employees brought him a folding chair, and they had him sit against the window, so that other people could check out.

The elderly man closed his eyes and slumped downed in the folding chair, which caused George to spring into action because he believed the man was having a heart attack.

The senior was placed flat on his back. The elderly man had a weak or slight pulse, George said. His eyes were rolling to the back of his head, and his mouth was closed.

George knew what to do because he was given a refresher course in CPR training last year.

George performed one complete cycle of 30 compressions, which is the rhythmic pushing on the chest with two hands, and made it halfway through the second cycle when the man started to breathe on his own and cough a little, George said.

George did not have a mouth guard on him, and the man’s mouth was closed, so he did not give him mouth to mouth.

The elderly man started to be alert, and his mouth was open, but he was groggy, George said.

After about 10 minutes, the senior had his head propped up with a roll of toilet tissue, George said. He knew his name. He knew how old he was — 89. He knew what the date was and was able to squeeze George’s hand.

Family members of the elderly man declined to comment for this article. The manager working at Acme on Sunday also declined to discuss the incident.

Ventnor Police Chief Doug Biagi said Monday the fact that a stranger was willing to get up close and personal with someone he did not know during this time of the coronavirus was heroic in itself.

“On any given day, the person who did this was at least a good Samaritan,” Biagi said. “The golden rule is, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

While the elderly man was still on the floor, he wanted to pay his grocery bill, George said. He paid the first half on a credit card and wanted to pay the rest of his bill, $33, in cash, George said.

The city’s EMS, police officers and firefighters arrived on the scene and put the man in an ambulance, George said.

George left the scene and headed out to buy the Easter ham at Marcacci Meats on North Delsea Drive in Vineland.

Jenn Hopkins, George’s wife, showed up at Acme before her husband left for Vineland. She spoke to her husband about what happened and posted the information online.

Hopkins grew concerned about the elderly man, wondering how he would get his groceries, how he would get home and how he would get his car.

The hospital, fire and police departments were called by Hopkins, but she had no luck finding anyone related to elderly man. She was told his name by her husband and believed he lived locally because it is the off-season. She did not disclose his name for privacy reasons.

The information was posted on two Ventnor community forums on Facebook by Hopkins. She said the man was 89 and his first name was Al, Alan, or Allan.

Hopkins was contacted by a woman who thought she knew the elderly man and sent Hopkins his picture. Hopkins sent her husband the photo and confirmed that it was the same man.

Hopkins used detective work and found the phone number for the elderly man’s daughter and his son.

“The son called and thanked me and thanked Jeff. He’s (the elderly father) fine,” said Hopkins, who added the daughter also called her.

Hopkins said the Ventnor community forum helped out because it helped her find the elderly man’s family members during a time when people are not supposed to have personal contact with individuals they don’t live with.

“He’s amazing, absolutely amazing, an incredible man,” said Hopkins about her husband. “Not all heroes wear capes. Mine wears a captain’s hat.”

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