STRANGER SAVES SURGEON’S LIFE

Stacy Stovall and Dr. André Eglevsky revisit the spot on Lee Drive where she saved him with CPR.

The bicycle wobbled across the path, weaving as it passed the wooded trail at the end of Lee Drive in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Spotsylvania County.

Stacy Stovall jumped out of the way. And the cyclist collapsed at her feet. The man rolled over and gasped. And then it looked as if he stopped breathing.

A few other joggers and walkers were on the trail and they ran over to help.

But when a woman screamed for someone to start CPR, most of the onlookers seemed uncertain. Stovall knelt and began compressions on the man’s chest.

“One, two, three ” she counted as she pressed on the stranger’s chest.

At 10, the man sat up.

Stovall sighed in relief.

But then he slumped back down. She continued the compressions while others called 911 and tried to give directions to the dispatcher.

About 25 minutes later, the man was loaded onto an ambulance. Stovall hoped he’d be OK.

As the ambulance drove off, a woman turned to Stovall and asked, “Are you a nurse?”

“No,” she replied. “I work at the Y.”

As an employee of the Rappahannock Area YMCA, Stovall was required to receive life-saving training. She grudgingly took the CPR class.

She didn’t want to sacrifice a Saturday and didn’t think she’d ever need the skills.

“I work in the office, and I thought, ‘Who am I going to save?’” said Stovall, member-engagement leader for the YMCA.

But that Sunday morning, as she finished her run on the wooded trails off Lee Drive, Stovall’s training was put to use.

And she soon learned that her efforts saved the stranger’s life.

Dr. André Eglevsky collapsed in the middle of his usual Sunday routine—a 10-mile bike ride and 3-mile run. The 72-year-old orthopedic surgeon typically rode his bike to Lee Drive, parked and then ran on the trails before biking home each Sunday.

That morning felt normal until he finished the run and climbed back on the bike.

“I pedaled two times, and then the bottom fell out,” Eglevsky said. “I don’t even remember hitting the ground.”

He vaguely remembers the ambulance but has no clear memories between Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, when he woke in a hospital bed.

Eglevsky looked at the ceiling and thought, “Where am I?”

He was in Mary Washington Hospital, recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery.

That same weekend, a family friend died from a heart attack. Eglevsky knew he was lucky to be alive; fewer than 8 percent of people whose hearts stop outside of a hospital survive, according to the American Heart Society.

“I am an example of someone who is alive because of someone else knowing CPR,” Eglevsky said. “You learn CPR to help someone else, and that someone else will be very grateful to survive.”

Immediate CPR can double or triple a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest, said Dr. Alex Na, who performed Eglevsky’s surgery.

But outside of a medical center, it’s rare to be near someone who knows CPR.

“Roughly 70 percent of people in this country don’t know how to administer CPR,” Na said.

And it’s not difficult to learn the technique, which no longer includes a breathing component, he said. Chest compressions alone are now recommended.

“It’s kind of funny,” Na said. “But if you do it to the beat of the Bee Gees ‘Staying Alive,’ that’s almost the exact right cadence. So just remember ‘Staying Alive.’”

Through Facebook and mutual friends, Stovall discovered Eglesvky’s identity. She was able to help him get his bike back—it was left behind when he boarded the ambulance. Eglevsky isn’t using it yet; he hasn’t returned to his normal Sunday routine. But he has resumed running.

“Initially, you feel like you’ve been run over by a train,” he said. “But you just keep active and each day gets better and better.”

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Amy Flowers Umble: 540.735-1973 

aumble@freelancestar.com

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