Old Mill servers give customer CPR

Nursing students' quick action may have saved man's life
Nov. 28, 2013 @ 11:21 PM

Two nursing students at Walters State Community College in Sevierville performed CPR on a man who was waiting to be seated while they were working at the Old Mill restaurant in Pigeon Forge Nov. 3.

The man collapsed, and Svetlana Rowland and Josh Patterson-Pope, along with two other guests at the restaurant, began performing CPR until paramedics arrived on the scene. He suffered a heart attack, and he may not have lived if not for the quick actions of Rowland and Patterson-Pope.

“It was Sunday night, a busy night,” Rowland recalled. “I was working as a hostess up front seating people. Somebody came in and said, ‘Call 911, we have a guy who collapsed out here,’ and my manager was there with me and we called 911.”

Aftterward, Rowland said that she and her manager walked out into the waiting area to see what happened, and the man was sitting upright and insisted he was all right. “My manager asked him his he was in pain, if he needed anything, and he said, ‘No, I’m ok,’” Rowland said.

“After about five minutes, some people walked in and said, ‘Does anybody know how to do CPR?’ So I ran upstairs because I knew Josh was working,” Rowland said. “I said, ‘Josh, let’s go,’ and I was pretty scared because I had my CPR training a few years ago, so I was just thinking, let’s see what’s going to happen.

“We felt his pulse and tried to talk to him, but there was no response. He was gasping for air, he was blue, and so we started CPR and I don’t even know, it was just like I was sleeping and just doing it and doing it until the ambulance arrived.”

Rowland said that the man sent an email of thanks to the Old Mill restaurant about a week later. “He just said that on Sunday night I really wanted to enjoy my dinner, but my heart had another plan, and thank you for these people,” Rowlands said. “It was not only us, there was another lady giving him breath. I thought it was his wife, but it was just a stranger, and there was another guy there who was CPR certified.”

Walters State nursing instructor Kathy Brewer said that was a great experience for the students, particularly because they know that the person they helped is okay.

“A lot of times you don’t get to find out, or it doesn’t go well,” Brewer said. “It’s very valuable, and I’m glad their first experience had a good outcome.” Patterson-Pope added that finding out one way or another is good for closure. “It doesn’t matter how many times you do it, you never forget it,” Patterson-Pope said. “It’s still a traumatic experience, even for the people helping.”

The experience “means everything,” Patterson-Pope said. “It’s validation for the two years of nursing school, the committment, the time away from family. We get into this profession to save people and help people, and we just got lucky.”

Rowland said that during her nursing career, she hopes to save a lot of lives.

“All the time when I’m talking about it, and knowing that he survived and I did something that really impacted somebody’s life, it makes me want to cry,” she said.

Patterson-Pope said that he doesn’t think his actions were heroic, because they were what he’s supposed to do.

“We did what was expected of us,” Patterson-Pope said. “We know that at some point in our career, whether in a hospital or a restaurant or on the side of the road at a wreck, we made that committment to learn that skill because it’s going to be put to use.”

Al Blanton, a co-owner of the Old Mill, said he is proud of Rowland and Patterson-Pope. “I’m not surprised at all,” Blanton said. “That’s the quality of the people we have working with us. We have several folks who work for us part time and go to school, and we want to be a part of that.”

Rowland and Patterson-Pope are both graduating from the nursing program Dec. 13 and will be able to sit for the state boards in January. Walters State’s nursing program is a two-year program, and new students are admitted every January. Brewer said that, while she is always proud of all of her students, these two and the other 16 in their graduating class stand out to her.

“They’re wonderful; some of the best students we’ve had in some time,” Brewer said. “I think people should know about what they’ve done and what kind of wonderful people they are.”