Valley nurse reunited with man she helped revive after heart attack

Sep 1, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:46 am

PHOENIX — A Valley nurse was recently reunited with a man she helped revive after he experienced a massive heart attack in early August.

On August 6, Robert Durling of Queen Creek, 69, loaded his bike into his vehicle after he’d just completed a long distance ride, Dignity Health said in a press release.

Durling was on his way home when he suffered a heart attack while waiting at a stoplight near Lindsay and Queen Creek roads, which caused his vehicle to veer across traffic and onto a curb.

At the same time, Courtney Johnson, an off-duty trauma ICU nurse at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center, saw Durling’s car veer off the road and a man banging on Durling’s window.

“I ran over to his car, looked inside and saw Robert unresponsive and slumped over against the window,” Johnson said in the release.

“Some good Samaritans helped me break his window and pull him out of the car. That’s when I realized he didn’t have a pulse.”

Johnson performed over three rounds of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before first responders with Gilbert Fire and Rescue arrived. She was able to keep the blood flowing though Durling’s body, delivering oxygen to his brain and other organs.

“We always strive to provide the highest level of care and treatment to the people working, living and traveling through Gilbert,” Michael Riley, Gilbert Fire and Rescue deputy chief, said in the release.

“Our department regularly collaborates with Dignity Healthy East Valley on trainings and community outreach opportunities; however, this was a unique experience where we worked together in the field to provide the highest level of care for this individual in their time of crisis.”

By the time Durling made it to Mercy Gilbert’s emergency room, he was in full cardiac arrest, with his carotid artery 99% blocked, Dignity Health said. He underwent a series of procedures and didn’t suffer any brain damage or other serious complications.

While he was recovering, Durling and his family were eager to find the nurse who helped save him. He only remembered her name and that she was wearing Dignity Health scrubs.

Two days later, with the help of his nurses at Mercy Gilbert, the two were reunited in Durling’s hospital room, and his family was able to thank the nurse for saving his life, Dignity Health said.

“It was incredibly emotional to see Robert again, this time with the reassurance that he is going to make a full recovery,” Johnson said.

“For days, I had been praying that he was alive, and it was just a thrill to see that something I did out of instinct is keeping a family together. It’s a huge honor and blessing to be considered someone’s guardian angel.”

Durling has been discharged from the hospital and is recovering at home.

“I can’t thank Courtney enough for saving my life,” Durling said. “My kids and grandkids joined our reunion via Facetime, and we all had a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the woman who saved me. I am so grateful to the doctors, nurses and first responders who are the reason I’m alive.”

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Valley nurse reunited with man she helped revive after heart attack