October 10, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A recent late summer Saturday evening was like any other for 2 employees of The University of Kansas Health System. Transport dispatcher Matthew Bradley and wife, Dominique, an administrative assistant to the medical director in Mid-America Cardiology, were out for a bite at a pizza shop near their Gladstone home.
As they placed their order, Matthew began feeling disoriented and dizzy. Seconds later, his wife heard a loud crash and saw her husband on the floor.
"When he fell, it made an awful noise," she recalled. "I saw Matthew on the floor, gasping for air and blood was streaming from his mouth."
She and other customers pressed desperately on Matthew's chest, pleading for him to speak. It was chaotic and stressful – until a third health system employee, clinical nurse coordinator Valerie Goodale, RN, swooped in, leaving her 2 sons, ages 9 and 18 months, at their table.
"Three of us got Matthew on his side," said Goodale, part of neurology's movement disorders clinic at the Landon Center on Aging. "I was certain he was having a seizure and for a moment, he didn't have a pulse. At that point, adrenaline and experience took over."
While they waited for an ambulance, Goodale's CPR training helped restore Bradley's pulse. But he was still unresponsive and his left leg thrashed about. Goodale calmly told those crowded near the counter to "let the seizure ride itself out."
The ambulance took the Bradleys to a hospital near their home. Emergency room physicians administered Grand Mal seizure medications and ran tests to determine what may have caused the seizure. The tests came back negative for anything that would indicate the possibility of further seizures.
After 4 hours of treatment and observation, he was sent home. As with most convulsion experiences, Matthew recovered and life returned to normal within a week or so.
While sitting in the hospital ED that evening after the adrenaline had died down, Dominique suddenly had an epiphany. Goodale, the alert and skilled caregiver who may have helped save her husband's life, was a teammate in a health system innovation group Dominique participated on.
"The realization came rushing down on me – I had seen Valerie in our meetings – the lady who rushed in to aid Matthew," Dominique said. "You can call it coincidence, luck or the Lord stepping in, but I call her our Good Samaritan."
She rushed off an email to Goodale later that replayed the frantic moments in the pizza shop and the trip to the ED. A light bulb went off with Goodale as she read Dominique's message. She too, had not been aware when performing CPR that it was a health system co-worker who begged her husband to respond.
"That night was the scariest moment of my life, and I believe Valerie saved my husband's life," Dominique said. "Matthew and I both work at the health system and love it here – it's just another example of what a great place this is."