Quality | Published April 11, 2013

A second chance at life

It’s probably safe to say that Paul Ross, 78, believes in second chances.

He will tell you that his kids weren’t exactly sure about his plan to marry a few years back, but Paul knew that even though he and Mary had divorced when they were very young, now that they were both single again, it was time to give it a second chance.

The second time around, Paul and Mary of Port Matilda enjoy their marriage and the simple pleasures of country life. A former truck driver, retired after 44 years on the road, Paul has a dream of re-purposing a bus to do a cross country tour. Mary babysits her two little nephews, and wonders if she could possibly leave them behind for such an adventure! Anything seems possible, of course, as long as the couple enjoy good health.

But this winter, Paul was having some problems with shortness of breath. His doctor, Paul Guillard, MD, internal medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group, recommended a CT scan. The procedure went fine, without a hitch, and his wife Mary wheeled Paul down the hall to the lobby so that she could stop at the restroom before heading home.

“I gave Paul my purse to hold while I went into the bathroom, and when I came back out, I could see something was terribly wrong,” said Mary.  “I tried to scream for help but nothing came out of my mouth! Then suddenly the doors opened and a lot of people came rushing in and some girls took me to another area,” she said.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Clark, RN, had a delay in radiology. She was waiting for her patient when she heard a scream. “Immediately my whole crew came running, and even Dr. Botti, (Kasandra Botti, DO, medical director EMS) who just happened to be nearby. That was a good thing!”

Everything that should happen in this kind of emergency began to happen. One radiology staff member dialed in the code blue for help in radiology. Others wheeled in the code cart, and a team of nurses lowered Paul to the floor where cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) could be done more effectively.

After checking his pulse, Stephanie began CPR on Paul and within minutes the monitor that had been attached to him indicated that he was breathing on his own.

Mary waited. It seemed like forever. “Someone came back to get me and said, ‘He’s back and he’s OK.’”

During those frightening minutes while Mary was waiting in another area, Stephanie Clark, and a team of professionals were busy saving Paul’s life.

“As an American Heart Association training center, our goal is to equip everyone, from nurses, to aids to transports, with the knowledge and skill necessary to effectively administer CPR when needed,” said Dwain Pegues, RN, clinical educator, Mount Nittany Medical Center. More than 1,400 staff members were trained in 2011-2012.

“It’s a real issue of safety for our patients that we have trained personnel and code carts ready at any location in the hospital where a person may have a cardiac event,” said Pegues,

 Of course Mary and Paul are grateful for the prompt lifesaving intervention that occurred during a routine test, but they are especially grateful to Stephanie. “When I woke up, I asked to speak to the girl that saved my life. When I met her, I asked if I could give her a hug.  I was taught to always say thank you,” said Paul.

With a second chance at life, that cross country trip might still happen. “I’m going to teach Mary how to drive the bus,” says Paul.  She just shakes her head and smiles.