Two professionals from Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin got more than an early-morning workout during a holiday season visit to a Dundee Township Park District facility.
Intensive-care unit registered nurse Dan Brems of Lake in the Hills and Christina Rhodes, a cardiovascular radiology technologist from Carpentersville, suddenly found themselves in a position to help save a man's life at Randall Oaks Fitness Center in West Dundee.
Timothy Baker, 62, of Carpentersville, is a Randall Oaks regular who decided at the last minute to hit the facility about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 24. Baker, who still is recovering from quadruple heart-bypass surgery at Sherman Hospital, said he doesn't remember much after going into cardiac arrest at the club.
"I was on the elliptical for a while and I went to, I think it was the seated bench press, and I did one set and I got real dizzy and I thought, 'You know what, maybe I should go home,'" Baker said. "The next thing I know, the paramedics were shaking me, waking me up."
Brems, 36, said he was on a bench press perpendicular to Baker when he noticed from a corner of his eye that the man fell on his left side and hit his head on a piece of exercise equipment. He said he told an employee to call 911 because Baker appeared to be seizing and shaking.
As Brems tended to Baker before paramedics arrived, Rhodes walked into the fitness center for her first workout there. She said she heard someone gasping for breath and recognized Brems as she turned a corner.
Brems and Rhodes flipped Baker onto his back. Brems started CPR while Rhodes, 32, yelled for a fitness center worker to get an automated external defibrillator.
"He tried to sit up right away," Rhodes said of Baker. "We had shocked him and had done the compressions and he (gasped) and tried to get up. We were like, 'Take it easy. Just lay down.' He was ready to go."
Rhodes said she and Brems did what any health care professionals would have done on their personal time. Brems said it's been satisfying to know Baker is with his family and recovering.
"The biggest gift for me is knowing he's OK," Brems said.
Baker joined Brems and Rhodes at the hospital Friday to discuss what happened at the fitness center. Baker said he began cardiac rehabilitation Thursday at Sherman Hospital and that he's doing well.
"These guys definitely saved my life," he said.
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