Jennifer Martin (NASA Photo) A routine drive to the office turned out to be anything but when a Dryden employee encountered an emergency April 13.
Jennifer Martin, who works in the Dryden environmental protection office, saw a car stopped in the middle of the road on 50th Street West with white smoke coming from under the hood. She made eye contact with the driver, who seemed to be nodding to her that he was okay.
But when Martin looked in her rearview mirror at the next stop sign, the man was not getting out of the car as the white smoke began turning thicker and darker. She called 9-1-1 and told them what she saw. She then turned around, drove past the man's vehicle and called 9-1-1 again to give further information about his condition.
She kept what she thought was a safe distance from the smoldering vehicle. Martin asked her nine-year-old-daughter Madeline to remain in their car as she went to try to help the man out of his vehicle since he was not responding to her voice. A second individual, Christine Dorman, then pulled over to assist Martin.
The man's door was open and he kept looking and nodding at the two women, who then proceeded to pull him from the car. The fire spread to the gas pedal as they were pulling him out of the vehicle.
"Within five to ten seconds after we pulled him from the car, the front seat was engulfed in flames," she said. "I was surprised how fast it spread."
A California Highway Patrol officer arrived and asked the man if he was diabetic. He was, and the California Highway Patrol officer believed he was suffering from diabetic shock.
Martin again offered assistance by giving the man mints and water that she had in her car. Then paramedics arrived and transported the man to the hospital.
"You have to use your intuition to know if it's safe or not safe. I don't know how I knew to turn around, but I just felt it was the right thing to do. You don't just leave somebody in that kind of situation and just assume somebody else is going to stop," she said.
As part of her work in the environmental office, she said she has trained in safety procedures.
"We go through so many types of training; I'm sure that that made a huge difference on my ability to react," she said of her job.
What does Madeline think of her Mom's heroics?
"She's really quiet, but she said to me before bedtime that night, 'Thanks for saving that man's life.'"
Martin's fiancé, Mike Rossiter, was shocked after hearing about her day, but told Martin she was his hero.
Although Martin said she only did what she thought was right, others agree with her family's assessment.
Martin and Dorman were honored with certificates from the California Highway Patrol, state Sen. George Runner and Assemblyman Steve Knight two days after the selfless act. The two women also have been asked to attend a future Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting to receive a separate award.
In an emergency situation, a key lesson for others to remember, Martin said, is, "Don't assume someone else is taking care of it."