Spotlight on Campus Safety Hero Ellsworth ‘Sonny’ Pryor

VCU Medical Center police officer saved life of woman who was in full cardiac arrest.

Call it coincidence or divine intervention, but one woman visiting Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center last March is lucky that VCU Police Officer Ellsworth “Sonny” Pryor was not where he was scheduled to be on the day she had her heart attack. Fortunately for her, Pryor had a last minute change of assignments, which enabled him to save her life.

Just as the woman fell to the floor in full cardiac arrest inside the hospital, Pryor parked his patrol vehicle outside of the hospital doors. He was within walking distance from the entrance and heard the transmissions on his patrol radio regarding an unresponsive female.

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Luckily for the woman, not only is Pryor a police officer, he has decades of experience as a certified emergency medical technician and former advanced life support provider. He put his experience to good use, checking to see if she had a pulse. She didn’t.

After instructing someone nearby to retrieve an automated external defibrillator, he began administering CPR. Numerous hospital staffers also responded to the scene, including Shannon Lubin, a clinical nurse and program coordinator for VCU Health’s Rapid Response Team.

While all of this was going on, VCU Police Officer Barney Burns worked with security personnel to keep pedestrians out of the area to give Pryor and hospital staff space to work. Additionally, Tim Grosskopf, a security specialist, and Nelson Epps, an assistant security supervisor, held up blankets around the woman, whose chest was exposed for the AED.

Pryor administered two shocks from the AED, and on the third one, the woman had a viable cardiac rhythm. After that, she underwent an ARCTIC protocol to restart her heart and protect her brain.

Three days later, the woman was awake and talking again.

“If you can shock someone in the first two minutes for certain arrhythmias or when advised to do so on an AED, that’s the best chance you have to save them,” Lubin says. “This lady is alive because of these officers … Officer Pryor did exactly what he was supposed to do.”

It is for these efforts that Pryor has been named this month’s Campus Safety Hero. Way to go Officer Pryor!

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