Paula Milligan

Paula Milligan, an RN with Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, formed a friendship with Rhonda Reilly after performing CPR and saving Reilly's life following a cardiac arrest episode.

Spectrum nurse administers lifesaving CPR

Whether it was circumstance, probability or fate that brought Paula Milligan to the side of Rhonda Reilly on Aug. 7, one thing is certain: a life was saved that day.

Milligan, a nurse at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, was on her way home from work when she saw her neighbors crowding around the body of a woman collapsed in the street.

That 59-year-old woman — Reilly, who was visiting the area with husband, Steve — had just suffered a cardiac arrest while jogging on Ariel Drive in Ludington. She collapsed on the pavement, according to Steve, and nearby residents were huddled around her, calling 911.

Milligan knew time was of the essence and sprung into action, administering CPR to Rhonda while waiting for first responders to arrive.

The intervention came just in time, according to Steve.

“She saved her life,” he said. “If you don’t get CPR within five minutes or so, you’re dead.”

Milligan, who has worked as a cardiac nurse at Spectrum since she moved to the area in 2006, said she agreed that the CPR tipped the balance and saved Rhonda’s life.

“She was unresponsive, lying face down and blue,” Milligan said. “I didn’t know if she had been hit, blood was coming out from the head… My neighbors helped and we lined her up and rolled her on her back so I could see what was going on.”

Milligan said she reasoned that it was a heart- or lung-related issue after finding no abrasions or scrapes on the wrists that would be present if Rhonda had been hit by a car.

She really wasn’t breathing,” Milligan continued. “She was blueberry blue and her pupils were fixed, so I started CPR right away.”

For an estimated 18 minutes, Milligan gave Rhonda chest compressions at a rapid rate.

Read the full story in Friday's Ludington Daily News print and e-Editions

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