Cardiac Arrest Survivor Reunites With First Responders Who Saved Her Life


ANKENY, Iowa – The Ankeny City Council meeting saw an unlikely reunion Monday.

Rod Nelson dialed 911 on July 29 when his wife, Mary, had gone in to cardiac arrest.

“There was no heartbeat, no breathing, no nothing. I got my phone, called 911 right away and they told me to start CPR,” Nelson said.

Within three minutes, first responders came to their house from Fire Station No. 3.

Firefighter and paramedic Jenna Sherzan said they used a Lucas device on Mary.

“What it does is it wraps around the patient’s body and then there is a suction cup that sticks to the middle of their sternum and it provides compressions at an eloquent rate in depth,” Sherzan said.

First responders did CPR on Mary for 43 minutes and gave her 11 shocks. The doctors told her she suffered from a sudden cardiac death where an unexpected change in her heart rhythm occurred.

“Research says every one minute that passes without compression or CPR in total being performed goes on the list likely you aren’t to survive the occurrence,” Sherzan said.

Fire Station No. 3 opened in September of 2018. If not for the new station, the call would have gone to Fire Station No. 1, located nine minutes away from their house. If those responders were busy, the call would have been forwarded on to the second fire station, which is at least ten minutes away.

“Had they not put that new station in there, she would not be here today,” Nelson said.

Through rehab, Mary has gained the ability to walk again, with some extra help.

“We’ve been able to do a lot of things, normal things. It’s just that carrying her chariot with us. So, the bucket list is to get back to dancing,” Nelson said.

The team and Mary reunited at the city council meeting Monday.


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