Fitz was on her way home from a national competition in which her daughter participated. Although the event took place at Iowa State University, she and her party ended up at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport when their flight plan was suddenly changed. She was rushing through the crowded airport to change planes when the unthinkable happened: She came upon a man who was lying on the floor, seemingly lifeless.
Without hesitation, Fitz threw her bags down and sprung into action as a first responder. Finding the man had no pulse, Fitz pulled out a medical mouth shield and began administering CPR. She continued artificially breathing for the man while another nurse arrived and began giving him chest compressions.
Fitz kept her undivided attention on the man, despite the large crowd of people that had gathered around to watch. After learning that the airport had an automatic external defibrillator, she used the device to shock the man twice. He finally began to regain his heart rhythm. Fitz smiles as she recalls, “As soon as I saw the paramedics, I started screaming ‘Ya’ll need to intubate him!’ And they did.”
Fitz was nominated for the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award by her colleague Susan Helms, who commented that although Fitz was credited by airport personnel, airline staff and bystanders for saving the man’s life, she has responded with humility and dignity.
“I just did what needed to be done and what any nurse should do. I believe God put me there at that moment for a reason because there were so many reasons that our group shouldn’t have been there,” says Fitz.
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