Three women jump in to save local man at Emilson YMCA

Posted: Mar. 06, 2023

HANOVER – John Thomson headed to the Emilson YMCA on a wintry Thursday with his friend Martin for their usual weekly workout. The 93-year-old finished his workout then suddenly everything went black.

“He just went down,” said friend Martin MacKnight. “I knew he didn’t trip, he just collapsed, face first.”

YMCA member Stefanie Horoho, RN, a pediatric nurse practitioner, was in the middle of her own workout when she saw Thomson collapse and knew he needed medical assistance. Horoho and two Y staff members, Jenna Stanley and Toni Kabilian, immediately rushed to his side to help and found Thomson unconscious.

Unable to find a pulse, Horoho and Kabilian went to work to perform life-preserving CPR on Thomson before applying an automatic external defibrillator while Stanley called 911.

“Our staff is fully trained for this type of situation,” said Stephanie Costa, Director of Health and Wellness at the South Shore YMCA’s Emilson branch. “I am so proud of Jenna and Toni for being prepared to do what it takes to save a person’s life without hesitation.”

After five minutes, the team was overjoyed when Thomson regained consciousness, just as Hanover emergency response teams arrived. Except for a wound on his head where his eyeglasses cut his face during the fall, Thomson is nearly recovered and looking forward to returning to his workouts at the Y.

On Tuesday, February 28, John Thomson was reunited with Horoho, Stanley and Kabilian at the Emilson YMCA for a ceremony to celebrate his survival and recognize the heroic acts of his rescuers.

“We are truly grateful for the courage of three women and the quick response of Hanover Police and Fire Departments who were on the scene in moments to take Mr. Thomson for further medical attention,” said Emilson YMCA Executive Director, Dan Berry, who presented awards of achievement to the three women at the event.

“I don’t know what brought me into the Y that day,” recalled Horoho, a mother of two who attended the event with her husband and two small children, “but something told me I had to get out of the house and head to the Y.”

“I’m just so relieved he’s okay,” said Horoho, who greeted Thomson with a warm embrace. “As a nurse, we don’t always know what happens to our patients when they leave our care. It feels so good to see John and know that he’s all right.”

The quick response of the Y staff is no accident, according to South Shore YMCA Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Williams.

“We work really hard at this,” said Williams of the Y’s emergency preparedness procedures. “We don’t operate our Y hoping bad things won’t happen. We know that unfortunate events will occur, so we continuously prepare our team to be ready. I am extremely proud of our Y staff for using their training and instincts to jump into action and help a member in his greatest time of need.”


About the South Shore YMCA

The South Shore YMCA is a leading charitable organization dedicated to strengthening community through programs that promote healthy spirit, mind, and body. Serving the communities of Quincy, Randolph, Holbrook, Weymouth, Braintree, Milton, Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, Scituate, Norwell, Hanover and beyond, the South Shore Y provides the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive through its services and programs. Financial Assistance is a Y community benefit available to all families in need, applicable to all Y programs and services. To learn more about the South Shore YMCA, visit The South Shore YMCA. The Better You Belongs Here.