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Erik Burgess, Published November 21 2012

2 nurses resuscitate woman who collapsed during holiday parade

FARGO – It’s never too early in the season for a Christmas miracle and a couple of guardian angels.

When a woman stopped breathing and collapsed while walking in the downtown Holiday Lights Parade on Tuesday, she couldn’t have picked a better place to do it – directly in front of two longtime registered nurses.

“I’m a firm believer that Cindy and I were put in that place at exactly that time for a reason. We had the skills that we needed to help her,” said Nicole Christensen, a house supervisor and nurse manager at Essentia Health in Fargo.

Christensen, along with Cindy Troftgruben, were standing just 10 feet from the Bell State Bank parade float, watching it glide by the intersection of Broadway and NP Avenue when the woman, who police have not named, “went to the ground” at around 7 p.m., Christensen said.

Each armed with around 20 years of experience, the two nurses burst into action and searched for vital signs, noting that the woman, whom they guessed to be in her late 50s or early 60s, had no pulse and had stopped breathing. They began CPR, pumping her chest to keep blood flowing.

“You know that if you don’t do anything, nothing good is going to happen,” said Troftgruben, who is the recovery room supervisor at Essentia Health in Fargo. “Your instinct takes over and you kind of go on autopilot.”

Before long, a police officer retrieved a defibrillator from the downtown bus station. Pads were strapped on and only one shock was needed to bring her back to life, Christensen said.

“The CPR was maintaining her circulation … but we couldn’t have probably turned the corner without the electrical shock,” she said.

Christensen said the woman was talking to her as she entered the ambulance. The woman remained at Sanford Health on Wednesday morning, but was alert and talking to police, Lt. Joel Vettel said.

The two nurses suggested that people familiarize themselves with AEDs, which they said are easy to use and can be crucial in saving a life.

Christensen said it can be difficult to feel prepared when you’re not in a controlled setting, but the best thing to do is stay calm.

“We did the best with what we had, which was good ol’ fashioned CPR,” she said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518


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