When you’re a nurse, you never know when you’ll be called upon to help someone in need — even if it’s on a dance floor in a dress and heels. Rush nurse Angela Cooper, RN, experienced this firsthand while attending her friend’s wedding in New Buffalo, Michigan, in late September.
Toward the end of the reception, most of the wedding guests were closing out the night on the dance floor when suddenly Cooper felt a tug on her hand. Initially thinking her boyfriend was pulling her out for one last dance, Cooper was shocked to see he was directing her toward a man on the ground surrounded by other guests. She immediately sprang into action, moved the man on his back and began feeling for a pulse. When Cooper couldn’t find a pulse, she asked someone to call 911 and immediately began doing CPR.
Trained to handle an emergency
Cooper was well prepared to handle this type of emergency. During the pandemic, she relocated to the medical intensive care unit to help with Rush’s sickest COVID-19 patients since she had prior experience working in this area. “I’m in these situations on a daily basis with patients, so it was second nature to me,” Cooper says.
With no defibrillator on-site, Cooper had to continue with CPR until paramedics arrived and could take over. Cooper’s adrenaline was pumping and she performed CPR for almost five minutes before asking the crowd if someone else could take over. A former emergency medical technician stepped up to help, but admitted it had been a while since she had done CPR. Cooper sat next to her and coached her through the compressions. “The first thing I thought of was the song ‘Staying Alive,’ and I sang it in her ear to guide her through it,” Cooper says.
Police arrived on scene with a defibrillator that they immediately put into use and paramedics showed up soon after to transport the man to the hospital for further treatment. After the emotional ordeal, Cooper continued to consult with the family over the phone while he was being treated. About 30 minutes later, the DJ announced to the guests that the man was alert and stable at the hospital.
“It was a surreal moment to hear that this person was alive because I was there to provide CPR,” Cooper says. “Had he been at home and alone, who knows what the outcome would be. This is just one of those incidents you’d never dream would happen — especially at your friend’s wedding.”
In the days following the incident, the man who Cooper saved had to undergo a quadruple bypass surgery and, thankfully, is doing well and recovering today.
“I’ve gained so much experience at Rush and I strongly believe that the training I’ve received here prepared me for and got me through this moment,” Cooper says. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been dealing with patients coding in the ICU so it was only natural for me to use those skills in this emergency situation.”
A grateful family
Cooper is thankful that her friend can now look back at her wedding day as the day her family member’s life was saved. The family shared their thanks for Cooper’s help.
“We are so incredibly grateful to have been in a room with many medical professionals,” they said. “Words cannot express this. Without them, he would not be here today. Due to Angela’s swift action, time was not wasted in resuscitation. The importance of CPR has never been more apparent and we encourage everyone to get certified if they have not already.”
Cooper is thankful and proud that she was well-prepared to help save this man’s life under immense pressure. “I think if there was any moment in my life where I was supposed to be in the right place at the right time — this was it.”