Taking it to Heart: Bauxite graduate saves man's life while at LR gym

Dana Guthrie
Staff Writer

When Bauxite High School graduate Megan Crawley chose to enter nursing school, she had no idea that her skills would be put to the test so quickly.
“I can’t believe all this is happening, really,” Crawley said. “I didn’t think that there would be all of this attention.”

Crawley, 23, was getting in a workout with her boyfriend at the North Little Rock Athletic Club on Jan. 11 when she heard people begin to yell for a doctor. A club member, Charles Rainey, had collapsed and wasn’t breathing.
“It catches you off guard,” Crawley said. “You ask yourself if you’re hearing it correctly. A man by me asked if there was a doctor here and I said that I was a nursing student.”

Crawley is a first-year nursing student in the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She chose to enter the nursing program because of personal experiences in her life.
“My father died when I was 9 of heart complications,” Crawley said. “And then my little brother had to have heart surgery when he was 4. I saw what the nurses did for both of them and knew that’s what I wanted to do. Either in cardiology or (pediatrics).”

By the time Crawley reached Rainey, managers of the club were already attempting to administer CPR.
“I was explaining to her what to do and that I needed her to stop after 30 compressions so that I could give him breaths,” Crawley said. “I had already felt for his pulse and noticed that he didn’t have one and that he was turning blue.”
Crawley noticed that Rainey tongue was swollen and blocking his airway.
Another UA-Little Rock nursing student who works at the club, Ryan Ruff, brought over an automated external defibrillator and began charging the device.
“I continued to give (Rainey) breaths and compressions while Ryan was hooking it up,” Crawley said. “After we used the AED machine I started giving him breaths and compressions again. After my second round, I felt that his pulse was back. He made a strange noise so we rolled him over on his side and that’s when he began to breathe, he wasn’t alert, but he was with us.”

By the time medics arrived to transport Rainey for treatment, he was awake. Crawley added that while she was relieved that she could help, the experience left her literally shaking.
“I was talking to my boyfriend and I just couldn’t stop shaking,” Crawley said. “When the medic took him away, my boyfriend said that he looked over at me and that I was just doing random stuff at the gym and still shaking.”

Crawley visited Rainey at Baptist Health Medical Center on Sunday where she learned that he had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the gym.
“His wife actually wanted to get some pictures of us together,” Crawley said. “I wanted to give the family some time together before I visited. I’ve been in that situation and my family members didn’t all make it out. I know how it is to feel that you don’t know what’s wrong and then thankful that your loved one is alive. I wanted to give them that family time alone.”

While the experience was intense for all people involved, Crawley said that she is more determined than ever to continue on her path to becoming a nurse.
“I was proud of myself, but I also just felt numb,” Crawley said. “I didn’t know how to feel. I was thankful that he was alive. You have someone’s life in your hands and you’re just praying to God that they wake up.”

Crawley said that she is grateful for the teaching that she has received at UA-Little Rock and especially to the nursing instructor who taught her CPR, Joanna Rostad-Hall.
“Whenever she instructed our classes, she is very stern, but she wants you to learn,” Crawley said. “She is great at her job. She made sure that when we were doing our compressions that we were doing them correctly with just the right amount of depths and not going too hard. She made sure that we were properly doing it. She wasn’t just teaching the class to teach it. You could tell she wanted us to do well at it.”

Crawley has planned to focus on pediatric nursing and possibly work in a NICU, but with her early family experiences and the events of the weekend, she said she may change that to focusing on cardiac care.
“I’m not totally sure, but I just feel like the heart is calling me back,” Crawley said.