Canzano: A twist in the tale of that heroic nurse
You think football games are wild?
The other day, I made a mental note to update you on the journey of Andrea Perry. She’s the emergency-room nurse who saved the life of a fellow Washington State football fan a few weeks ago.
If you haven’t read about Perry, you should take a moment to soak up the details. She’s 33, married, with two young children. She has colon cancer and has had a rough go of things. Many of you read my column about Perry performing CPR on a 56-year old Boeing engineer named Rob Martin and wrote to tell me you were inspired by her actions. She saved a life.
Not all stories have happy endings.
This one did.
You’re invested. I’m invested. I even heard from three different Pac-12 athletic directors who read the piece and marveled about Perry’s heroics. I made a note to revisit her story in the spring with an update.
I can’t wait that long.
On Saturday, with Washington State playing Arizona State, Perry and her husband were invited to be the tailgate guests of a high-profile Washington State donor. Instead of leaving at their usual time, Perry and her husband, Ryan, got in their car a couple of hours early. They made the drive on US-95 from Spokane to Pullman.
“We were on our way to go have breakfast at his RV,” Andrea said. “Usually we don’t go that early but happened to because he invited us.”
Her husband, a nurse anesthetist, noted that a silver sedan was pulled over on the shoulder of the road. There was commotion around the vehicle.
“Is that an accident?” Ryan said. “I think someone is on the ground.”
The driver of the silver vehicle, a gentleman named Joe, was on his way to the WSU game with friends. While driving near Colfax, the vehicle began to cross the center line. Joe leaned to his left and began having a seizure. His friends took control of the car and pulled it over.
“I think he’s having a stroke,” one of them said to Andrea as she arrived on the scene.
Again, we’re talking about the ER nurse who found herself in the right place at the right time on the club level a few weeks ago at Martin Stadium. She performed CPR. Then, went about watching the second half of WSU’s football game. Now, she was on the side of the road, back on the front line with her husband.
The driver’s friends were already on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when Andrea arrived. They handed her the phone and she began a stroke assessment. Temperatures were in the 30s. Bystanders offered blankets for the patient. A state trooper came upon the scene and pulled over, too.
Andrea told the trooper to dispatch LifeFlight and get Joe to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. It has a trauma center. Just then, Joe, began to have a major seizure.
They turned him on on his side.
He turned blue.
When the seizure ended, they rolled him on his back and Andrea and her husband used a jaw thrust to open his airway. Just then, an ambulance arrived, medics scrambled out, shouting: “We’re loading and going!” LifeFlight was already waiting a few miles away at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
Joe is still hospitalized. I’m told he has a benign brain tumor. More tests will be done. I heard about the incident on Saturday morning, and ended up on the phone with Andrea.
Her Cougars were still an hour away from kickoff.
She was eating breakfast and said: “I’m just glad we left early for the game.”
I don’t know what you make of this. Maybe it’s just what first-responders do. They see trouble, pull over and run toward it. Andrea and her husband have now helped a couple of struggling strangers in a few short weeks.
Or maybe it’s something bigger.
A bystander who also pulled over, saw Andrea at the scene and said to her, “Hey, I know who you are. I just read about you saving that other guy at the game.”
I keep thinking about her cancer.
I don’t think it stands a chance.
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