Cardiac Arrest Victim Alive Thanks to Off-Duty Nurse
While attending a Bengals game in Cincinnati, Stacie Oxman (center) an intensive care nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital, went into action and used a portable defibrillator to revive a woman who had gone into cardiac arrest. (Chris Stewart/Staff photo)
Dayton Daily News
November 20, 2008
Hamilton-area grandmother Wanda Gruenschlaeger and Dayton intensive care unit nurse Stacie Oxman merely intended to enjoy a Bengals game when they arrived at Paul Brown Stadium early Sunday afternoon, Nov. 16.
Fate had other plans for the two women, who started the day as strangers.
Oxman stepped out of her bathroom stall around 12:15 p.m. when she saw a woman lying on the ground, her daughter leaning over her and yelling, “Mom! MOM! Please, Mom!” and, “Can somebody please help my Mom!”
“I’m a nurse,” Oxman said calmly as she began to administer CPR.
Her experience as an ICU nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital taught Oxman to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest. Gruenschlaeger had no pulse. Her head tilted back as she struggled to breathe. Her heart had gone into an irregular rhythm.
“Get me a defibrillator!” Oxman called out.
Gruenschlaeger’s stepdaughter, Connie Frost of Hamilton, felt reassured by her authoritative manner.
“I was scared to death,” Oxman said. “This is what I do for a living, but normally I have monitors and equipment and a whole team of people helping me. Here I was all alone with only my skills and my gut instincts.”
Minutes later, Cincinnati Police Sgt. Eric Franz arrived on the scene and radioed for a defibrillator, which is used to restore the heart to its normal rhythm after cardiac arrest.
“Stacie was clearly well-trained and clearly in command of the situation,” Franz recalled. “By doing CPR Stacie kept the patient’s heart moving until we were able to shock the heart with the defibrillator. There’s no doubt in my mind that the lady would be dead by now if Stacie hadn’t been there.”
Frost said she remembers thinking, “This woman really cares. She doesn’t want to fail.”
The first time, the patient didn’t respond to the defibrillator, so Oxman continued CPR. She shocked her again, praying hard — and this time, Gruenschlaeger started breathing. She fought the medics when they tried to force oxygen into her lungs.
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“That’s when I started to cry,” Oxman said. “That’s when I knew she would make it.”
Frost didn’t speak to Oxman directly until her mother was loaded onto the gurney.
“She grabbed my hand and we talked and we cried,” Frost said.
Gruenschlaeger remembers very little of her ordeal: “I just remember washing my hands, and nothing else until they smacked me around in the ambulance.”
Her first conversation with Oxman was emotional.
“You saved my life,” she said. “There’s no other way to say it.”