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Doctor Goes Into Cardiac Arrest At YMCA, Saved By Nurses

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Dr. Joe Blonski happened to be at the right place at the right time when he went into cardiac arrest earlier this year.

Blonski collapsed after working out at the St. Cloud YMCA and was saved by registered nurses that were also at the gym. Lucky for him, his wife, and his three children, some fellow gym-goers knew exactly what to do.

That morning, Dr. Blonski was one of the first to arrive at the Y and one of the first to start exercising. But as he was getting done with his workout, things took a sudden turn.

"As I was bending down to pick up my sweatshirt, I felt a little dizzy. That's the last thing I remember," Blonski said.

When he was going into cardiac arrest, but as fate would have it some RNs also happened to be at the Y and ran to his side.

"In the beginning he had decent color but it started to fade fast," said Kari Dembouski, a CentraCare RN.

Dembouski and Rachel Appel were part of a group that began CPR. With no pulse, they then turned to an automated external defibrillator (AED), and that changed everything.

"Apparently, about 40 seconds or so after I got shocked, I woke up," Blonski said. "I do feel that God put me in the right situation for the folks to be around to do what they do. I feel extremely blessed."

About five minutes after collapsing he was awake and trying to sit up. Doctors found 95 percent blockage in one of his main arteries, a condition known as "the widowmaker." Had he been just about anywhere else that morning, this story very likely would have had a different ending.

"I'm used to being in situations at the hospital where people are more sick and you don't always see the best outcome. So to see him come around and shake his hand by the time they took him to the hospital, it was quite incredible," said Appel, an ICU nurse for CentraCare.

Blonski and the nurses credited with saving him all work at CentraCare in St. Cloud, but they had never met before that morning.

"It's amazing to see someone there and not knowing if he's going to make it or not, to he's with his family. It's going to be a good Christmas," Dembouski said.

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