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Athlete Saved By Device She Helped Raise Money To Buy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Shakopee woman is alive today thanks to a CPR machine that she just happened to help raise money to buy.

Alicia Bravo, an emergency nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center, is no stranger to cardiac arrest victims.

"We see a lot of very difficult things and we see patients who have had arrests at a young age," Alicia said.

But she never thought in a million years that she would become one.

"They said I was swimming and I stopped and I asked for help," Alicia said. "My dad threw me a floatation device and I didn't go after it. It was then that they realized I was in trouble."

Alicia Bravo and a Lucas Machine
Alicia Bravo and a LUCAS CPR device (credit: CBS)

Bravo went into sudden cardiac arrest while swimming in Lake Ripley near Cambridge, Wisconsin on July 1.

Her sister helped pull her out of the water. When they got to the dock, Bravo's own children watched as her dad, and for a short time her husband Mike, desperately performed CPR.

"I think 'surreal' is the best term for it because you don't really realize truthfully what you are doing," Mike said.

Cambridge EMTs arrived and hooked Alicia up to a CPR device called a LUCAS chest compression device.

As fate would have it, Alicia ran a race the year before that helped raise money for the small town to buy the life-saving device.

"I was first in my age group in the race that raised money for the LUCAS that saved me," Alicia said.

The LUCAS and an AED got Alicia's heart back to normal. She spent 24 hours in a coma, and awoke having no recollection of what happened.

Tests at the hospital showed a healthy heart and a healthy Alicia, but a defibrillator and a pacemaker were implanted just to be safe.

Two months later, she's back on her feet and has her sights set on another triathlon, eventually.

"It was awesome. The first day I really got my heart rate up and I really got a good sweat on," Alicia said. "I started crying and I said to my mom, 'I feel normal again.'"

It is still unclear what caused Alicia to go into cardiac arrest, but all her genetic testing came back negative.

She is planning an event on Oct. 20 at Minneapolis' Surly Brewing called "Pumps and Pints."

Alicia calls it a fun class that teaches CPR and raises money for the Cambridge, Wisconsin EMS.


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