Rosemary Williams, a 76-year-old retired registered nurse, was walking toward the Eisenhower High School gym with her daughter, Connie Bublitz, to watch a game to be coached by her granddaughter, Sarah Bublitz at a junior varsity match between Eisenhower and Springfield High School..
Williams, who has a history of heart problems, suddenly dropped to the ground while holding on to her daughter’s arm.
“She wasn’t responding,” Connie Bublitz recalled. “There was no response in her eyes, her face, nothing. There wasn’t any pulse.”
Connie Bublitz, a Macon County employee trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, performed chest compressions and delivered a couple of quick breaths into her mother’s mouth.
Michelle Bonebrake, the varsity coach, had just walked over to the gym’s entrance, to speak to the athletic director about an official who had not yet arrived. She spotted the elderly lady on the floor near the door.
“I assumed it was a heart attack,” Bonebrake recalled. “I kicked my heels off, ran across the gym and got the defibrillator.”
When Bonebrake returned, Jennifer Parsano, an emergency medical technician who was pulling concession duty at the game, had taken charge of the scene. As soon as Bonebrake returned with the machine, Parsano said Williams had no pulse and was not breathing.
A couple of students, A.J. Madison and David Reed, called 911.
Bonebrake placed the “defibrillator next to Williams and attached the patches to her chest.
“As soon we put the patches on, it assessed her and checked her heart rate,” Bonebrake said. “If her heart was not beating it would shock her. And it shocked her.”
Because there was no discernible response, Bublitz and another woman resumed performing CPR.
“The machine said, ‘Please stop compressions,’” Bonebrake recalled. “The machine assessed that her heart was not beating. Then it shocked her again.”
Just as emergency medical technicians simultaneously arrived from the Decatur Ambulance Service and Decatur Fire Department – four of five minutes after they were dispatched – Williams took her first breath.
“It was kind of surreal,” Bonebrake said. “I was just holding her hand, and staring into her eyes. I was saying, ‘Breathe, everything is going to be all right.’ Every time I said ‘breathe,’ she would breathe. If I didn’t say anything, she would not breathe. It was so miraculous to me, that she was fighting so hard.”
“That was the first time we ever used it, and thankfully the first time was successful,” Hicklin said. “It was a miracle. It was an extraordinary situation. I was so proud of the quick thinking of Michelle Bonebrake and Jennifer Parsano. They made their Eisenhower family very proud. Today’s been a very emotional day for all of us. It made us stop and reflect on what’s really important.”
Connie Bublitz said her mother, recovering in the intensive care unit of St. Mary’s Hospital on Friday, is doing pretty well.
She commended Bonebrake and Parsano as loving, genuine people, who were in the right place at the right time, and did a great job of helping her mother.