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Saving A Life - Dana's Story - The Nebraska Medical Center

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Published on Jan 21, 2013

Dana Ratigan had dedicated her life to saving lives. She'd done plenty of that as an ER nurse, but had never faced a life-and-death situation alone. That all changed as she was just about to board a flight from Sacramento to Boise just after New Year's.

"I worked in emergency as a nurse and have worked all over hospitals over the years, but have always been a part of a team," says Ratigan. "This time, I was all alone."

Ratigan is now the Manager of Pre-Surgical Screening at the med center. But as she prepared to board the flight, she learned her life-saving skills are far from rusty. "I literally had just sat down at my gate before it was time to board," recalls Ratigan. "In front of me about 15 feet away, I saw an older lady laying on the floor."

Ratigan immediately noticed the woman wasn't doing well. A woman who appeared to be assisting her told Ratigan she couldn't feel a pulse. "I knew at that moment, I was going to have to do something," says Ratigan. "I checked her pulse -- she didn't have a pulse -- and she wasn't breathing. She visibly appeared to not be doing well."

Ratigan immediately started doing CPR, remembering she had just renewed her certification only a month ago. "I started giving her compressions," recalls Ratigan. "I paused, and before I resumed, she started breathing a little bit. Sure enough, she started breathing more, and deeper and I checked her pulse and her pulse was back. She started to come around with just the compressions I had given."

Ratigan says the woman appeared to be in her mid-seventies, but later learned she was 90 years old. She only knows the woman's first name -- Pat. She doesn't know if the woman has any idea someone other than the paramedics, who arrived moments later, saved her life.

"I don't even know if she knows about me or not," says Ratigan. "I wasn't concerned that she did. I got on my plane and carried on with my travels."

"I always wondered if something like this would happen someday," says Ratigan. "You think surely someone would step up and help, but that didn't happen. I guess as a health care professional you don't even think twice. I just thought 'I have to help this lady. I can't just sit here and wonder if everything's ok,' and I'm glad I did."

For more information, visit www.NebraskaMed.com or call 1-800-922-0000.

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