From left, ED nurses Olivia Smith, Amanda Berger, Laura Hoover, Amanda Haimaidi, Liz Campbell and Nora Kate O’Brien step outside at colleague Micaela Deary’s wedding reception.

Micaela Deary, MSN, RN, of the Emergency Department, is used to seeing her nursing colleagues provide outstanding, emergent care in the hospital. But last month, she found herself in awe as she watched five of her colleagues — who happen to be among her closest friends — spring into action to save the life of a guest at her wedding.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Deary, who married her husband, Patrick Johnson, on Sept. 3 and celebrated with loved ones during a reception at the Tirrell Room in Quincy. “The band was just getting started again after a break, and we were on the dance floor. Suddenly, one of our guests collapsed, and people started screaming.”

He had been near Deary’s ED friends on the dance floor, and they responded within seconds.

“I turned around and saw him on the floor, and one of the girls was already next to him doing chest compressions,” Deary said. “Another was doing mouth-to-mouth, another was keeping time and another was getting demographic information from his family members to find out about his history. My colleagues were running a full code on the dance floor at my reception.”

‘A Well-Oiled Machine’

In their respective 16 and 20 years in the ED, Amanda Berger, MSN, RN, and Laura Hoover, RN, have performed CPR many times, but never in a setting like this.

ED nurse Micaela Deary dances with her husband, Patrick Johnson, at their wedding reception.

“I saw that a man was on the ground, and some people said he had passed out,” Berger recalled. “Laura and I quickly assessed him. He wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse. From there, it was all hands on deck.”

Berger started CPR, and the bartender provided an automatic external defibrillator that Hoover used to shock the man’s heart. Amanda Haimaidi, BSN, RN, and Liz Campbell, MSN, RN, were also on hand to support them and kept time for CPR.

“It felt like chaos with so many people around,” said Berger. “I had Laura across from me and the rest of my Brigham team with me, and, because of that, I felt brave and confident enough to keep going.”

During that time, Nora Kate O’Brien, BSN, RN, went to the family to ask questions about the guest’s medical history.

“It’s amazing how we all went into work mode. We all had a job, just like what we do in the ED as a team,” said Berger.

In total, the nurses performed CPR for nearly 20 minutes, shocking the patient’s heart three times before first responders arrived.

“It was like a well-oiled machine,” Deary said. “My friends went from dancing to administering CPR in two seconds flat.”

When first responders arrived, the nurses gave them a detailed report of what occurred and what they had learned about the patient. “The EMT said it was a great report. I don’t think he had any idea that we were a group of ED nurses,” Hoover said.

Once first responders took over, the nurses went back to their hotel, emotional about what had occurred and fearing for the outcome for the guest and his family.

Hoover reflected on how surreal the situation felt. “When we’re in the ED, even if it’s chaotic, it’s controlled,” she said. “Experiencing something like this out of that setting gives you even more of an appreciation for first responders and even more perspective about how fragile life is.”

‘It Was Fate’

They learned later that evening from Deary that the guest was alive, thanks to their response.

“What they told him at the hospital was that he suffered a heart attack with 100 percent blockage — known as a ‘widowmaker’ — and that in a roomful of 100 men, 99 would have died as a result. He survived because of the quick response of my colleagues and friends,” Deary said.

Berger is still astounded that the guest was so close to her on the dance floor when he collapsed.

“We had just been outside and gone back in minutes before this happened,” she said. “And if he were anywhere else — in the bathroom or at his table — the outcome could have been very different. He just wasn’t meant to die. It was fate. He was supposed to be where he was at that second, as were we.”

Hoover noted that Berger was “a true hero,” for her actions. “I’m grateful to work with such amazing people,” she said.

Hoover also emphasized the importance of CPR in his recovery. “It’s a true testament of what you hear — CPR and early defibrillation matter,” she said. “When we were in the thick of doing it, I kept thinking it wasn’t working. I’ve worked in the ED for over 20 years and seen so much heartbreak and sadness, but also some true miracles. When we heard that he woke up in the ambulance, it felt like a miracle.”

It’s a day that this team of nurses will never forget.

“I am so thankful,” Deary said. “People can now look back at this day and see the happy ending.”

Her mother, Joan Deary, BSN, RN, is also a nurse at the Brigham on Braunwald Tower 6C, Medical Oncology.

“I am so proud to work at the Brigham and am grateful for these wonderful nurses,” she said. “The outcome could have been horrible. Instead, this will be a story that my daughter and new son-in-law will reflect upon as a beautiful day for them and of a life being saved.”

7 Responses to “‘Running a Full Code on the Dance Floor:’ ED Nurses Provide Lifesaving Care at Colleague’s Wedding Reception”

  1. Patricia Higgins

    Nurses make a difference. so thankful that you were there to provide CPR so quickly.ED nurses rock!

  2. Donna Gately

    Thank you for your expertise and hard work in a stressful situation with family and friends around you. I am a Brigham RN and close friend of the family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️
    Nurses rock even off the clock, you saved a great guy!!!!

  3. Karen

    outstanding! I wish the hospital would provide basic life saving training, such as CPR, to other employees as well.

  4. Doug Benishek, EMT

    Way to keep your wits about you in that unexpected and uncontrolled setting! Sounds like the patient might not have received CPR, let alone high-performance CPR if you all weren’t all there. Congrats on the save, y’all.

  5. Alicia Andre

    Real people with extraordinary talent.

  6. Emmett Johnson

    Never a dull moment at a Johnson wedding…

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