RIO GRANDE — Jackson resident and nursing student at the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College (URG/RGCC) Penny Burnette recently put her education to the test when she responded to an emergency at an area business.
Burnette came to the aid of a man suffering a heart attack while dining at a restaurant in Chillicothe during the fall semester. Burnette is currently studying in Rio Grande’s Holzer School of Nursing and is on track to graduate in May with her associate’s degree.
During the fall semester, she and her husband, Tony Burnette (who is also a Rio Grande student) traveled to Chillicothe with a youth group from their church. While there, they were enjoying their meals at a popular restaurant when they heard someone asking people to call 911.
“Tony and I jumped up to see what was wrong,” Burnette said.
Over at another table, a man who had been eating had suffered a heart attack, fallen off his chair and hit his head on the table. When Burnette got to him, he was conscience but was not responding to her.
“He was in trouble,” she said.
She told the man’s family that she was a nursing student and she would do whatever she could to help him.
“I performed CPR on him,” she explained.
Her husband then called 911. While all of this was going on, the family members of the man asked the other people in the restaurant to pray for him.
Burnette performed CPR for about seven or eight minutes until the paramedics reached the restaurant.
When he went to the hospital, he was reportedly in bad shape, and Burnette didn’t know what would happen to him. She was thankful that she was able to help him in the restaurant, and just hoped he would get better at the hospital. With everything going on and the condition he was in, she said she doubted he would remember anything about the restaurant or her efforts to help him.
She found out later, though, that when the man was recovering in the hospital and finally woke up, one of the first things he asked for was if he could meet his “guardian angel.”
“He insisted on it,” Burnette said.
One if his family members then got in touch with Burnette, and she visited him in the hospital.
“He came over and gave me the biggest hug,” she said. “And he said, ‘I want you to know, from now on, I consider you family.’”
The two have continued to stay in touch over the last few months, and Burnette and her family are close with the man and his family.
“I am now Facebook friends with him, and I feel like I’m part of his family,” she said.
Burnette is thankful that she was at the restaurant that night, and said she feels that God put her in the right place at the right time. She’s also thankful for the nursing training she has received at Rio Grande, and said it prepared her well to deal with the situation.
“I remembered all of the things I was taught,” Burnette said about how she dealt with everything calmly. “It all happened so quickly.”