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Sometimes saving a life is comparable to a relay race

Sometimes saving a life is comparable to a relay race
When it’s a race against time, Carle Health doctors and nurses always stand ready to run anchor and deliver the highest quality care for the best possible outcomes. Assisted by the speed of the people in the first legs of the race – our relay partners – our patients can come out on top.

On a cold and snowy day in January of this year, a young Illinois State University graduate student from Minnesota had no idea that before the day was done, she was about to be at the center of the biggest relay race of her life. Luckily for her -- the relay team was ready.

While walking with friends, Alyssa Enevold experienced sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed in the snow.

At almost the same time, ISU student, Anthony Michalski, walked out of his friend’s apartment and was drawn to a commotion where he saw Alyssa lying on the ground. Sensing urgency in the situation Michalski approached the group to find Alyssa not breathing. The race began.

He started CPR while also dialing 911 for help. As a current ROTC member and a former certified lifeguard, Michalski had training that enabled him to pick up the baton and run with it. He continued performing CPR until the Normal Fire Department arrived and took over Alyssa's care. Baton passed.

Normal Fire Department medics quickly identified that Alyssa was in a lethal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. As they set off for Carle BroMenn Medical Center, they administered one cardiac defibrillation which converted her back into a more normal rhythm and used their radio to brief the medical team at the hospital on her status. The Emergency Department (ED) team was ready for Alyssa when she arrived. Baton passed.

Living in Minnesota, Alyssa’s mother, Christine, didn’t learn about her daughter’s medical emergency right away as the news needed to pass through a series of friends until one was found that had her contact information. Once alerted, a quick call to the Normal Police Department helped her trace her daughter to Carle BroMenn.

“I called the hospital and talked with Michelle Bice, RN, Emergency Department, told me what had happened, how Alyssa was doing and that I needed to get there,” remembers Christine. “I hopped in the car and drove seven hours through the night.”

“We continued to stabilize Alyssa with fluids and medications when she arrived at the ED and worked to identify the cause of her arrest,” Bice explains. “Once she was stabilized, she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).”

The ICU is where Christine reunited with her daughter when she arrived at 4 a.m. “They were waiting for me and updated me on her condition. Everyone was just wonderful,” Christine remembers.

“I stayed the whole time she was in the hospital. I was right in her room with her the two days she was in the ICU and then moved to a room downstairs for two days she was on a regular cardiac floor.”

As for Alyssa, she remembers very little of her hospital stay. “I don’t remember anything about the day it happened or most of the hospital stay. But my mom said like a million times, ‘I’m really glad they took you to Carle. I feel like they took really good care of you.’

With an automated internal cardiac defibrillator (AICD) placed, which will monitor her heart rhythm and can deliver a defibrillation, if necessary, Alyssa was discharged from the hospital five days after the arrest with only some amnesia to the events. She recently completed 12 weeks in the cardiac rehab program and continues to get stronger every day. “I loved my physical therapist. I loved going there and seeing them and they were always so helpful and supportive. I loved that team so much. It was awesome,” she said.

“When I first got out of the hospital, I walked really slow, getting winded; whereas, at the end of cardiac rehab they were letting me run!”

At each leg of the relay, the baton was passed swiftly. The Normal Fire Department and Normal Police Department recently recognized Michalski for his heroic actions that day, presenting him with a Citizen Recognition – Lifesaving Award and recognized the relay team that together made this win for Alyssa possible.

The results can be life-changing when individuals and organizations come together for a common good. To learn more about becoming CPR certified you can find information about CPR/AED and first aid classes, on the Classes, Events, and Support Groups calendar on the Carle Health website.

Categories: Community

Tags: Cardiac Rehab, Carle BroMenn Medical Center, , CPR, SCA