Patty Rainsberry-Ricketts

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Talk about timing.

A Keizer nurse’s quick efforts helped save a man’s life – and she just happened to be driving by when she saw him collapse at the corner Dearborn Avenue and River Road.

“I turned to my right and saw a man standing at the bus stop there – he had a hold of it with both hands,” said Patty Rainsberry-Ricketts. “I watched as his knees bent and he felt flat back on the sidewalk.”

She pulled across traffic and asked a nearby school bus bus driver to call 911. He was sprawled on the pavement, turning purple. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse.

She’s a pediatric nurse at Salem Hospital, but the basic life support training she received doesn’t fully prepare for performing CPR on a fully-grown adult. Rainsberry-Ricketts was used to doing the same for babies – with the littlest ones, you use just two fingers.

“I knew I needed to break ribs. And man, you can hear that!” Rainsberry-Ricketts said. “I don’t even like it when people crack their neck, so after they broke you’re hearing that crunch, crunch, crunch.”

A crowd of bystanders was gathering, and one person wanted to help – just not too much.

“I asked her to do breaths, and she said, ‘No, I don’t want to do breaths,” Rainsberry-Ricketts said. “Then I asked her to take over compressions and I’d do breaths. And she said, ‘No, I don’t want to do compressions.’”

So with that, she kept doing chest compressions on the man until a Keizer Fire District ambulance showed up.

Until she received a visit from KFD a few weeks later, she had no idea what ultimately happened. Rainsberry-Ricketts said she often doesn’t get closure from patients, as they’ll be in the hospital when her shift ends and gone when she returns to work. But this one particularly gnawed at her.

“They disappear in the ambulance, and you never know,” she said. “I didn’t know his name, age or anything about him.”

It turns out he survived and will be at the Keizer Fire District board meeting next month to help present Rainsberry-Ricketts with the agency’s Lifesaver award.

The recognition is a little embarrassing for Rainsberry-Ricketts, she admits. But she can’t wait to meet a man who she helped give a second chance.

“I’m most excited I get to meet him and find out what the story was,” she said.