Mohegan Sun Visitor’s Heart Stops, Saved By Nurse at Connecticut Casino

A Massachusetts woman was standing on the casino floor at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun last week when she suddenly collapsed. She stopped breathing. Her heart stopped.

Edwards started applying CPR compressions on the woman’s chest
Edwards started applying CPR compressions on the woman’s chest
Patient Sandra Swenor meets Backus Hospital nurse and supervisor Cindy Edwards. Edwards just days before saved the woman’s life at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino.  (Image: Backus Hospital)

Cindy Edwards, a registered nurse, who happened to be at the casino, immediately sprang into action. Along with two other nurses, they applied life-saving techniques known as chest compressions.

Not only did the tribal casino guest get revived, she and Edwards later reunited at the very Connecticut hospital, Backus in Norwich, where Edwards was the East Region Employee Health Supervisor for Hartford HealthCare.

Cardiac Arrest

The incident began early in the evening on Oct. 22. Edwards and her husband, Erin, went to see country music star Blake Shelton performing at Mohegan Sun.

They were waiting for the show to start. Suddenly, her husband noticed a woman, who also was waiting to attend the show, starting to have a seizure. She was leaning on one of the slot machines. He alerted his wife.

“I looked up. I ran over to her,” Cindy Edwards told in a Friday interview.

Once by her side, Edwards told her, “Hi, my name is Cindy. I’m a nurse.”

Edwards knew exactly what to do. Before working in Connecticut, she had been an emergency room nurse in South Carolina and an EMT.

Edwards placed the patient onto the floor. She kept on checking vital signs.

There was no pulse. There was no breathing,” Edwards recalled. Immediately, Edwards yelled out for someone to call 911 to get EMTs. Edwards also started applying CPR compressions on the woman’s chest.

Soon, a second woman came up to Edwards. “I’m a nurse. I can help you,” the second nurse told Edwards. Her name was Rachel.

Edwards and the second nurse then took turns on compressions. Without that second nurse lending a hand, it was strenuous for anyone to continually give compressions on their own. Nor was there an external defibrillator available to them.

A short time later, a third woman came over. She too was a nurse.

That third nurse continued to check for a pulse. Soon, she felt one.

Within minutes, EMTs arrived at the casino floor. They took over and transported the patient to a nearby ambulance.

Edwards suspected they took the woman to Backus Hospital in Norwich, located nearby. That is one of two hospitals where Edwards worked until late this week.

So, a few days later, Edwards asked Backus staff if they remembered a woman who came in with cardiac arrest and seizure taking place at Mohegan Sun.

“I just wanted to make sure she made it and everything is good,” Edwards explained to colleagues.

After a few tries, a staff member at the hospital confirmed that indeed the patient was there. Her name was Sandra Swenor. The employee asked why Edwards was interested. Edwards told her that she was the patient’s first nurse at the casino and had applied CPR.

The staff member said that Edwards definitely had to meet her. So, she brought Edwards up to the patient’s room. The patient and her mother immediately thanked her for everything she had done.

I can’t thank you enough for saving my daughter,” the mom told Edwards, she recalls. “Cindy Edwards is my hero.”

Edwards and Swenor talked for a while. Edwards told her to get healthy and remain healthy.

In a good sign, Swenor was discharged from the hospital earlier this week. She is going to monitor the situation with her health professionals.

Nurse’s Training, Instinct

Edwards remains humble about the incident explaining that instinct and training immediately took over. The other two nurses who pitched in never told Edwards their names. Like Edwards, they just wanted to help when they were needed.

I’m a nurse and that’s what were supposed to do – respond,” Edwards said.

Even though the three nurses pitched in, many people at the casino kept on playing slot machines as events unfolded. It was Edwards’ husband, Erin, who got a pit boss to call for emergency personnel.

Purely by chance, Edwards this week has relocated to Maine to take a new job as director of employee health for MaineHealth, which operates several hospitals in the state.

Thanksgiving Wish

As Edwards looks forward to Thanksgiving in November, she is thankful for her family’s good health and commends her colleagues in Connecticut and elsewhere, especially during trying times of COVID-19.

“I will be forever grateful that I met her,” Edwards added about Swenor. “Now, I have a pen pal…. We’ll always stay in contact.”

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