Roman: Homeless woman saves heroin addict


What do you see when you turn on the TV?

You see conflict, chaos and people who just can’t get along. You see people who would cross a busy street just to kick a person while they’re down and then celebrate about it.

We, as police officers, see firsthand what mean, crazy and violent things people do to each other.

Today I witnessed something rare. I actually saw the opposite of all the craziness and nonsense in the world.

I responded to a “person down” call at one of our parks. The call said a male was inside a woman’s bathroom and not breathing. When I arrived, the paramedics were already there and treating a male, who overdosed on heroin.

A homeless woman told us she was in the bathroom at time taking a “birdbath” as she tried to wash herself. While she was in the restroom she could hear a man and woman cutting an aluminum can open to make a “cooker” so they could inject heroin.

She knew what this sounded like because she was also a heroin user.

At one point the man went down and stopped breathing. The woman who was with him, took off and left the male on the floor in the bathroom.

The homeless woman saw this and knew he wasn’t breathing. She took action and started doing CPR on him, even though he was a complete stranger to her.

She said, “I just couldn’t leave him there.”

“Did you give him mouth to mouth?” I asked.

“Yeah. I’ve done CPR before.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes. To my mom. I was 12 years old at the time.”

She made it sound like her mom passed away that day so I didn’t ask her any more questions.

The paramedics were able to revive the male and transported him to the hospital. We told the woman it looked like she had saved his life and told her she did a good job.

When we were done, she walked off into the park holding a bag with all of her belongings. She went back into her little world that most people will never be able to understand.

This is because the world has forgotten her and most people wouldn’t give her the time of day because of the way she looks.

Despite this, she saw that a complete stranger needed help and she jumped in with both feet and did what she could for him.

I’m not saying it’s safe to give a heroin addict mouth to mouth, but we can all learn a little something from the spirit of this woman, who helped another human being who was in need.

The spirit she displayed wasn’t much different from cops and firefighters, who are out there every day doing things for people they don’t know. They also don’t ask for anything in return.

Just something to think about.

Editor’s NoteJohn Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 ( His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. shares some of his columns.