It was only a split second, but Olivia Zompanti knew she had to take action fast. Olivia, an emergency room nurse, was off duty from her busy post at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and had just walked through the doors of her gym when she heard a shout for help.  A patron had fainted and needed emergency attention. Without thinking twice, Olivia rushed to the man’s side and quickly assessed the situation.

“I immediately realized that this man had not fainted; he was on his side, conscious, his face was purple and was displaying signs of cardiac arrest,” she says.

Leaning on her training and while waiting for emergency responders, Olivia turned the man onto his back and checked his pulse and pupils before starting CPR. She asked bystanders to help her save this man’s life. She quickly asked one individual to raise the man’s legs, another to pour water on his head to try to cool him down and another to time the CPR so she could pulse check after two minutes.

“I just felt like we had to get him back,” she said. “This was someone’s dad. He still had life to live. I fell back on my training as an emergency department nurse and focused on what needed to be done.”

As she continued CPR, she also asked bystanders to retrieve the automated external defibrillator (AED) and begin applying the pads to the patient. The AED successfully delivered a shock and restarted the man’s heart. Olivia, along with another bystander, continued CPR until paramedics arrived and took over the man’s care.

Shortly after, a paramedic found Olivia and told her that the man had been resuscitated and was now breathing on his own. After receiving care at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre, the man has since made a full recovery.

Trevi Brown, Clinical Program Manager of the Emergency Department at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital says that when she learned Olivia had saved a life at the local gym, she was not surprised.

“Olivia is one of those nurses who comes and does the work, day in and day out,” she says. “It’s because of her commitment to care and her quick thinking that this patient lived to see another day.”