Roadside angel helps save woman after cardiac arrest

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SPRING GREEN (WKOW) — A Richland Center woman was basically dead on the side of the road in Spring Green after she went into cardiac arrest. Then, a guardian angel appeared and saved her life.

“Had she not shown up when she did, I’m afraid that I may not be sitting here talking to you,” said Brenda Perkins as she tried not to let tears fall down her cheeks.

February 20th, 2019 was an ordinary day for Perkins and her husband, Dennis.

“It was a normal day. My husband and I got up and went to work and as far as I know, I really don’t have a lot of memory about the day,” Brenda said.

She and her husband finished work in Spring Green and were on their way home on Highway 14. Brenda said she felt fine, with no symptoms that something tragic was about to happen.

“We were talking, we were having a good conversation on the way home. I had just said, we have to stop and pick up some orange juice and right after that he said my head dropped down,” Brenda explained.

Brenda went into cardiac arrest in the passenger’s seat. Dennis pulled over on the side of the road, ran around the car and pulled her out of the vehicle.

“I knew I had to do something because I had her life in my hands,” said Dennis as tears gathered in his eyes.

He didn’t know CPR, but he tried it with one hand as he called 911 with the other.

Then, something miraculous happened.

“I knew if somebody was laying down in the snow on the side of the road, they needed help,” said Emma Clary, an Ithaca woman who just happened to be driving down the highway on her way home.

Clary didn’t pass by. Instead, she stopped to see what was going on.

“The passenger door was wide open,” she explained. “I saw a gentleman (Dennis) standing over something. I thought it was a duffel bag and then I was thinking, ‘is he changing a diaper?’ And then I got closer and I saw it was body laying there.”

Clary ran to Dennis and kindly told him to stand aside and make sure help was on its way. Clary, a respiratory therapist at American Family Children’s Hospital, began CPR after finding Brenda had no pulse and was gasping for air.

“I knew what I saw was just not good,” Clary said. “I knew she was dying.”

Clary kept the chest compression going for about five minutes until first responders arrived with an AED. Once Brenda was shocked, she regained a pulse.

“If I had stopped, I don’t know what would have happened. I would hope someone would’ve stopped but then minutes tick by and any minute that ticks by could be life or death for her,” Clary said.

After surgery and the implementation of a new pacemaker, defibrillator and heart monitor, Brenda is recovering well.

“Oh, I just think she’s an angel. I just think she’s an angel,” Brenda kept saying.

“I’ll be forever in debt to her,” Dennis said. “Forever,” he added as he got emotional.

The happy ending is still overwhelming for the hero who helped save a life.

“I think just because I knew I did the right thing,” Clary said as she wiped away tears. “And I have seen so many things happen at the hospital and patients who aren’t so lucky. I was part of this and she’s OK.”

A roadside angel who decided to pull over, saved a life and now created a friendship that’s beating strong.

“I think we’ll be friends forever, yes,” said Brenda as she smiled.

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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