Man thanks nurse who saved his life at Alsip gym

ALSIP, Ill. (WLS) -- A man who collapsed during a routine workout thanked the nurse who saved his life on Thursday.

Hank Gnaidek was working out at a neighborhood gym in Alsip when his heart simply stopped.

"I really didn't realize what was happening until we were in the ambulance," Gniadek said.

For this 66-year-old grandfather from Chicago Ridge, that day two weeks ago started like any other. Working out at the gym around 6 a.m - a few treadmills down - was Krista Ryan.

"I had my music turned up really loud, so I couldn't hear anything. But I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had fallen," Ryan said.

When she took a second glance, Ryan - who happens to be a trained cardiac nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center - noticed Hank wasn't moving.

"I ran over to him, turned him over, just kind of was like, 'Are you ok, are you ok?' There was no response," she said.

With her training kicking in, Ryan began CPR and yelled for an AED.

"We did deliver a total of two shocks and were able to get his pulse back right as EMS was approaching us," she said.

Gnaidek finally regained consciousness on the way to the ER.

"A paramedic said, 'We got a hold of his wife, she's on her way to the hospital.' At that point, I knew I was in deep trouble."

Hank, who underwent heart bypass surgery last year, had another life threatening blockage.

"What we found was in one of the major heart arteries - beyond where his bypass was - there were two blockages in a row of about 90 percent severity," said Dr. Vinay Arora, a cardiologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

But thanks to Ryan, a mom of four, Gnaidek is now on his way to full recovery.

"I keep looking behind her to see where her wings are definitely my guardian angel and hero no doubt," he said.

Dr. Arora and Ryan both stressed how important it is to start CPR right way when someone has a heart attack - and also knowing where an AED is.

A lot of public places have them, and it can make all the difference in the world. It certainly did in this case.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.