Marco first responders tell Capri woman she saved a man’s life

Ann Hall
Kathy Kurtz

Kathy Kurtz, a resident of the Isles of Capri, is well-known by residents in her community and also by those who attend her classes and personal-training sessions, many of which take place at the YMCA on Marco Island.

On Tuesday, April 19, she became very well known to a man whose life emergency staff said she saved.

Kurtz was conducting training with a client, Wendy Bullock, in the back of the lobby at the Y when another of her clients, Debbie, came in, shouting, “Help, this is an emergency; a guy is lying down on the tennis court, and he isn’t moving!”

Kurtz told Debbie to ask the front desk to call 911 while she and Bullock, who had been a nurse, rushed out to the court.

They found a man all alone. Both Kurtz and Debbie took his pulse and found there was none.

“I am going to start compressions, said Kurtz.

Kurtz continued with compressions, while Bullock continued with breaths.

“A third lady, whose name I did not get, showed up after Wendy and I started CPR, saying that she, too, had been a former nurse. The third lady kept continued contact with his wrist and told us when he had a pulse and when we lost it again. When she found a pulse and he gasped, we stopped CPR; when she lost the pulse, we resumed CPR,” said Kurtz.

"Alex Elaty from the front desk brought out an automated external defibrillator, which is standard procedure when 911 is called, but never hooked it up; he was still opening it up and getting it set up when EMS arrived,” said Kurtz.

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to stimulate the heart, using electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the layperson, and the use of AEDs is taught in many first aid, certified first responder, and basic life support level cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes.

The man was unresponsive for what seemed to Kurtz like a long time, as she continued with compressions and Bullock continued with CPR. The third lady helped to monitor his wrist pulse as they continued CPR.

“All of a sudden, we heard him gasp, so we stopped compressions and CPR,” said Kurtz, but he was breathing for only a short time, and was out again. “We lost him about three or four times while waiting for the AED and paramedics.”

Tennis match

Kurtz learned from the victim’s wife that he had just finished a tennis match and all the other men had left the court. His wife said that she had gone ahead of him to the parking lot for the car. As she neared the car, she turned around to find that her husband was not behind her. She went back to the tennis court where she found Kurtz and others hovering over him trying to revive him.

Kurtz said she learned on the scene that the man, believed to be in his 70s, was visiting Marco with his wife, with an eye toward moving to the island.

“The man wasn’t breathing when EMS arrived ... they got a flat line, just like his pulse started and stopped for us; it did the same for EMS for a while until it finally stayed pumping,” said Kurtz. “I found myself standing there watching the paramedics take over where I left off, when all of a sudden I realized the seriousness of the situation. I began trembling and sobbing hoping he was going to be alright.

“One of the paramedics told me afterward that once the victim was in the ambulance, he said, ‘Thank You!’”

Two paramedics from Marco Station 50, Hafid Oliver and firefighter/paramedic Chris Bowden, were among the four on the transport. In addition, Collier County EMS Lt. Connie Disarro and EMP Jonathon Camps assisted the victim.

“Marco Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy texted me, ‘Congratulations, you saved a life!’” said Kurtz. “Then Chris Bowden showed me the EKG and explained it to me and said that if I hadn’t kept the heart pumping, they (referring to the four paramedics) couldn’t have done what they did.

“I was so relieved when the victim’s wife called the tennis coach the next day to say that her husband was doing well,” said Kurtz. “The latest report is that the gentleman is getting (or has gotten a pace maker), but the doctors expect 100 percent recovery.”

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