Call it instinct, quick-thinking, a gut reaction.
When a man collapsed in the LensCrafters at Baybrook Mall in November, Brittney Frazier, RN, a pediatric special care nurse at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, bolted from her seat and rushed to his side.
“I ran over, went into ‘nurse mode’ and started doing CPR,” she said. “He didn’t have a pulse and I was yelling out for anyone to help me. Nothing like this has ever happened to me and I was running on adrenaline.”
Tens of thousands of people in the U.S. suffer cardiac arrests every year outside of a hospital, but they often don’t have quick access to first aid. Those who immediately receive CPR can double or triple their chances of survival, but less than one-third of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander, according to the American Heart Association.
That’s why it’s critical for people to be properly trained in performing the lifesaving treatment, Frazier said. She’s one of at least five off-duty Memorial Hermann medical professionals who recently have been called into action, performing compressions to people who fell ill in public spaces.
“It may seem like an eternity while you’re waiting for the paramedics to arrive – even if it’s only a matter of minutes – but every second truly counts,” Frazier said. “And it helps so much if someone is able to step in while the first responders are on their way.”
For that, Peter Hanik is grateful. He had been shopping at LensCrafters with his wife when he crumpled to the floor and Frazier hurried to his rescue. The RN performed CPR on Hanik as mall security and store employees scrambled to retrieve the public access automated external defibrillator (AED).
Hanik, who suffered from ventricular fibrillation, was shocked several times and given advanced life support by paramedics until his pulse resumed.
“If she had not been there, who knows what may have happened,” he said.
The pair later reunited in November at a ceremony hosted by the Houston Fire Department honoring Frazier, along with the other first responders, for her heroic actions.
“This just shows that you always have to be prepared because you never know what can happen,” Frazier said.
Alyssa Marcinak, a UTHealth physician assistant with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center, was recently recognized for saving a man’s life who went into cardiac arrest in the final minutes of a spin class they shared. Marcinak, along with another local physician who also happened to be in the class, raced to help Scott Corron. Together, they performed CPR for 20 minutes on him until paramedics arrived, even though they had just spent 45 minutes in a grueling workout.
On the morning of Feb. 16, Corron surprised Marcinak at a weekly staff meeting by sharing his story then inviting her colleagues to join him in giving her a standing ovation for her valiant act of service. He said he it was a blessing that Marcinak happened to be in the same spin class when he collapsed.
“It’s a miracle that God places people where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be,” Corron said. “It’s one thing to ride a spin class for 45 minutes. It’s a whole other thing to jump on someone and do 20 minutes of CPR after a 45-minute spin class. So we’re truly thankful.”
In July, two RNs in the pediatric operating room at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Brooke New and Jessica Manley, were attending a Houston Astros game when they noticed an unresponsive man in the rows ahead. Working in tandem with Minute Maid Park’s emergency crew, they performed CPR on the man until an ambulance arrived.
And last summer, Samantha Endersbee, RN in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center, rushed to the aid of her son’s teammate who collapsed after a soccer game. She scaled a railing, shocked the boy with a defibrillator and administered two rounds of CPR until he regained his pulse.
“Our nurses never feel like they’re truly off duty,” said Elizabeth Fredeboelling, RN, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer for Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Interim Chief Nursing Officer for Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. “Every day, they show compassion and care for our patients, and that doesn’t change when the shift is over.”
For more information on how to learn critical CPR skills, please visit American Red Cross.