EMS leaders at Pa. hospital recognized for saving colleague

Members of Reading Hospital's EMS leadership team were in the employee cafeteria when the coworker collapsed


By Laura French

READING, Pa. — Three EMS leaders at a Pennsylvania hospital were among those recognized this week for helping save the life of a colleague. 

The leadership team of TowerDIRECT, Tower Health's EMS service, were in the cafeteria at Reading Hospital on July 7, 2020, when another hospital employee, Michelle Rose, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, according to Tower Health. Director of EMS Anthony Martin, Director of EMS Quality Process Improvement Scott Dunbar and Director of the Transfer Center Kara Gagliardi noticed the commotion and saw someone grabbing an AED, and immediately rushed over to help. 

Martin, a licensed paramedic, attached the AED to Rose, and six shocks were administered. Other hospital employees from the cafeteria continuously administered CPR throughout the arrest. 

Rose regained a normal heart rhythm and was admitted to the hospital's Miller Regional Heart Center, where she was placed on a ventilator and received therapeutic hypothermia to prevent long-term brain damage. She has since recovered and returned to work. 

"To say that I am proud of the employees involved in saving Ms. Rose's life is an understatement," said Reading Hospital President and CEO William M. Jennings, in a statement. "These individuals heroically jumped into action and saved the life of their teammate."

Dunbar is also a licensed paramedic and Gagliardi is a pre-hospital registered nurse. Diana E. Arango, RN, and Patient Access Care Manager Erika Gilroy were also recognized as the first employees to respond when Rose collapsed. 

"I was fortunate to have the skill of an expert team providing my care," Rose said in a statement. "But I also had a group of employees that came together for me by donating their earned time off to allow me time to recover. During the incident in the cafeteria, a group of employees formed a prayer circle outside the room while the Code Team was with me." 

The AED used on Rose was placed in the Reading Hospital employee cafeteria 10 years as part of The Friends of Reading Hospital HeartSAFE Berks County Initiative, a collaboration between the hospital and The Friends of Reading Hospital volunteer organization to increase the chance of survival for sudden cardiac arrest sufferers, according to Tower Health. The initiative has led to the placement of more than 650 AEDS across Berks County, including more than 250 AEDs in first responder vehicles. 

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