GREENWOOD, Ind. -- As a critical care nurse in the ICU at Community Hospital South, Marcus Guajardo is trained to act quickly to save lives.
That training was put to use and rewarded during a recent shopping trip to a Meijer in Greenwood. Guajardo was nearly finished with that April shopping trip, already standing at the checkout, when he noticed several Meijer employees grabbing a wall-mounted AED before running back to another part of the store. He realized they were rushing to help a shopper who had collapsed.
“When I looked over there, I saw a gentleman, I just saw his legs,” Guajardo said. “He was laying on the ground and I just instinctively took off.”
Guajardo left his groceries on the conveyor belt at the checkout and sprinted to the man, who was in cardiac arrest.
“He had already turned a shade of blue,” Guajardo said. “I could tell he wasn’t breathing.”
Guajardo began doing chest compressions on the man, hoping to restart his heart respiration.
“After a few minutes of doing compressions, he started getting some color back and he was occasionally taking a breath,” he said.
The man wasn’t out of the woods yet, but Guajardo had brought him back from the brink in time for paramedics to take over and transport him to Community South.
Minutes later, when things calmed down, Guajardo remembered his groceries were still at the checkout. He says he felt bad for leaving them there, forcing several people in line behind him to wait. But then, something unexpected happened.
“One of the managers came up with all of my groceries bagged,” he said. “They thanked me profusely for what I had done. They paid for all of my groceries and they gave me a $25 gift card.”
At first, Guajardo says he tried to refuse the gift, but eventually accepted the gesture. The $25 gift card was in addition to his roughly $70 in groceries.
“Obviously, I didn’t do if for any kind of reward or anything like that, but it made me feel really good,” he recalled.
Two days later, when Guajardo returned to work, he learned the man he had helped to save was recovering in a room on his floor of Community Hospital South. Guajardo took the opportunity to visit the man and his wife in the hospital room.
“Right away, he kind of got teary eyed and he said ‘Are you the one?’ And I said ‘yeah, I was there helping out at Meijer,’” Guajardo said. “He wanted to get up and I said ‘please don’t get up’ and I shook his hand.”
“His wife stood up from the bench and she got real emotional and she gave me a very long hug,” he said. “They were very gracious and very thankful.”
As it turns out, the man in the store could also say thank you to Marcus’ wife.
Marcus says he was ready to leave the store earlier when she called to tell him that they also needed diapers for the youngest of their four children. That caused him to go back into the store aisles, delaying his exit. If not for that call about diapers, he probably wouldn’t have still been in the store when the man collapsed.
Marcus says his wife is also responsible for him becoming a nurse in the first place. He says she was the one who convinced him to leave a career in banking to become a nurse.