While at the airport, Nurse Gloria Cano performed CPR on a man who collapsed.

While at the airport, Nurse Gloria Cano performed CPR on a man who collapsed.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor, OPEC
Photo by Lt. Kelli Madsen, AA/PIO, Ironwood SP

While returning from a vacation to New York for her birthday, Ironwood State Prison Registered Nurse Gloria Cano ended up performing CPR on a man who collapsed at the airport.

In December, Nurse Cano was celebrating her birthday with friends and coworkers by traveling to New York. While on the return trip, the group was waiting for pickup at the San Diego International Airport.

A middle-aged man walked by them rolling two small suitcases and carrying a backpack. When he was about 10 feet behind the group, he collapsed.

“As we all turned in shock, I watched Ms. Cano rush into action without hesitation,” writes AGPA Alexsia Rincon in a report on the incident. “Within seconds, she arrived at this man’s side and began checking vitals and attempting to communicate with him. The man was not conscious and did not appear to have a pulse.”

For Nurse Cano, it was the right thing to do.

“At the time I just thought we needed to help this guy. I couldn’t just let him lay there,” she said. “It was my natural reaction as a nurse to help someone.”

The rest of the group called 911 and tried to summon airport staff. Meanwhile, Nurse Cano removed the man’s backpack, turned him over onto his back and started CPR.

Between chest compressions, she continued trying to speak to him and rubbed his arms and legs to try to get a response. He was bleeding from a large gash on his forehead.

When airport staff arrived, they ordered everyone to get back. Nurse Cano continued compressions. Finally, the man moved his arm and tried to speak but was incoherent.

“I felt a little anxious (about the whole situation) but once we got him the help he needed, I definitely felt joy,” she said.

She credits CDCR with preparing her for such a situation outside of an institution.

“I would say my CDCR training came into play. Many times we are first-responders on the scene (in a prison),” she said. “Working in the Triage and Treatment Area, as a first-responder, definitely helped. Also, I worked in the hospital for four years, which helped as well.”

A police officer arrived and took over the situation. Nurse Cano asked the officer if he needed any more help. He said the ambulance was nearby so she was free to leave.

“Without seeking any type of recognition, Ms. Cano proceeded into our vehicles that had arrived during the incident and our group continued on to our destination,” Rincon writes. “We did not learn why the man had collapsed but without a doubt, he was fortunate to have RN Cano nearby in his crisis.”

She said recognition was not on her radar.

“It was pretty much like a day at the office for me. I don’t really like attention. I’m more of a mellow, laid back kind of person,” she said. “We did what we could while we were there and then it was time for me to go. I think if I look back on it, I would do it all over again.”