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Off-duty Mass. sergeant saves life of cashier who wasn’t breathing

Police Sgt. Michael Cassidy saw the cashier “slumped over” at the register and rushed to help

By Curt Brown
The Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — As a kid growing up, Police Sgt. Michael Cassidy wanted to be a police officer, said his dad Stephen Cassidy, a retired Acushnet officer.

Now 50 years old, Cassidy was honored by the department, his fellow officers and the city for his actions during a medical crisis in the late afternoon hours of Aug. 31, while off-duty at Market Basket.

It was the third time he has acted courageously in a time of crisis. Cassidy, a mild-mannered officer who shuns the limelight, helped to deliver babies on two separate occasions in the past.

This time, however, he was honored for saving a life, not helping to give life.

On Tuesday at police headquarters on Rockdale Avenue, he was recognized for reviving a cashier at Market Basket who was slumped over her register. He came to her aid while he was grocery shopping with his daughter.

Cassidy, a NBPD cardio-pulmonary resuscitation instructor who served in the Marine Corps for six years, said he saw a police detail officer at the woman’s register and could tell that something was wrong. He rushed to the woman’s side and she did not have a pulse and was not breathing, according to Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro.

“Your training kicks in,” said Cassidy, explaining his decision to help someone having a medical emergency. “I have been an (CPR) instructor for seven years. She wasn’t breathing. It was a team effort.”

He gave her CPR and paramedics gave her three shocks with a defibrillator and her heart started beating, he said.

Cassidy has not seen the woman at the supermarket since the incident and doesn’t know if she has returned to work, but he asks the manager how she is doing every time he sees him, he said.

“I was just helping people, just being a basic human being,” he said.

The chief, who pinned his officer with a life-saving medal, made note that Cassidy was off-duty at the time, but then quickly added that police officers are never off-duty.

As Cordeiro spoke about his officer’s actions, many of Cassidy’s colleagues crowded in the media room to watch the ceremony.

Cassidy saved a woman’s life by his heroic, unselfish actions, which is what all officers want to do, Cordeiro said.

The chief said Cassidy’s actions were typical of his sergeant and typical of the men and women who serve under him. “It was a very happy ending where she is still alive today, thanks to Sgt. Cassidy,” he said. “We truly have a cadre of heroes working here.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell presented Cassidy with a citation from the city and said he acted “above and beyond,” shining during “a moment in time.’

“We’re really proud of the way he goes about his work,” the mayor said.

City Councilor Linda M. Morad said Cassidy goes the extra mile for the public regularly. “That’s the character of the man that he is,” she said.

Stephen Cassidy watched proudly near the front of the media room as kind words were said about his son and he recalled how Michael, as a child, wanted to be an officer.

“He just does his job,” the elder Cassidy said. “I’m very proud of him.”