Nurse hailed as hero after saving man’s life at gym

Posted at 11:25 AM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 11:25:09-04

CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. – A man from Chicago Ridge is grateful to be alive after he had a heart attack at the gym, - but was resuscitated by a nurse who happened to be at the same location.

Hank Gnaidek, 66, believes that if it weren’t for nurse Krista Ryan, he wouldn’t be here today.

“There were tears in my eyes. She was my Guardian Angel,” he told WGN.

Gnaidek was working out at a gym around 6 a.m. two weeks ago.  Ryan was two treadmills away from him blasting her workout tunes in her earbuds, but in the corner of her eye she saw him go down. When he didn't move to get up after a few moments, she knew something was seriously wrong. The Advocate Christ Hospital nurse works in the heart attack unit.

“There was no pulse. He wasn't moving. I started doing chest compressions,” she said.

While performing CPR, Ryan yelled to anyone who would listen to get the AED machine. The machine zaps your heart with an electric surge to start it up again. With help from 2 other gym members, Hank got two shocks from the paddles and he regained consciousness.

Paramedics arrived, rushed him to Christ Medical Center and he survived the heart attack without any permanent damage to his brain, heart or kidneys.

Gnaidek thought he was dreaming. Ryan hadn’t used an AED in five years but it came back to her without skipping a beat. She said the whole thing felt surreal.

“It kind of felt like muscle memory or divine intervention of some sort,” she said.

Normally she would have been gone from the gym by 6 a.m., which is another reason why Gnaidek’s wife, Pam, is astounded by the chain of events.

“She normally wouldn’t have been at the gym at that time but her son woke up. She was there for a reason and I am thankful,” she said.

Last year, Gnaidek lost 70 pounds and underwent heart bypass surgery. But as he found out that morning in the gym, there was a blockage which has since been repaired with a stent.

The incident is a cautionary tale for people to learn CPR and to always know where the AED is wherever they go.

Gnaidek said he hopes Ryan gets a raise or a promotion.

“Please give Krista a big raise and promotion. I don't think she will say no to that,” Gnaidek said at a press conference.

Gnaidek has two children and two grandchildren. He said he's feeling better all the time.