Two UW Health Employees Save a Woman's Life During a Camping Trip

Right Place, Right Time, Right Skills


The light was fading the evening of Friday, July 11, as Deb Brausen and Tracy Weber were settling in to enjoy their camping trip at Silver Springs in Rio. 


But at 8:30pm, they heard cries for help from the neighboring campsite.


Brausen, recently appointed vice president of UW Health specialty care clinics, and Tracy Weber, a nurse in general surgery at UW Health, were in the right place at the right time and they knew exactly what to do.


The sound led them to find 48-year-old Tammy Schroeder, of Caledonia, Wisconsin, lying on the ground, with no pulse. She had fallen while carrying firewood. They immediately began CPR and told the family to call 911.


"It felt like second nature. I have been a nurse since 1990. You have to do CPR in the hospital, but this was the first time we had ever done CPR in the field. We could see the life going out of her eyes. We had to keep her alive," Brausen recalled.


Deb Brausen (left, UW Health Vice President of Specialty Care Clinics) and Tracy Weber (right, general surgery nurse) were at the right place at the right time - with the right skills - when a woman collapsed while the two were on a camping trip in RioThe campsite had purchased an automated external defibrillator (AED) just two weeks earlier and it was put to good use right away.


"It was getting dark out, so the families used their cell phones to give us light as we shocked her," Weber recalled.


They shocked her four times but she never got a stable pulse. When the EMS arrived 15 minutes after CPR started, they were able to get a pulse. She was rushed to Divine Savior Healthcare in Portage.


Once she was stabilized, they transferred her to UW Hospital.


The next day, the family told Brausen and Weber that she's in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. They were extremely thankful for the life-saving measures.


"I don't remember anything about that night; I did not wake up until Saturday when I was at UW Hospital. I know I would not be alive without them," said Schroeder, who had a pacemaker put in to stabilize her heart.


Brausen and Weber credit the yearly training at UW Health.


"It is remarkable how calm we felt. It's really a feather in the cap of UW Health for all the time, energy and resources they put into their training. I'm a vice president now, but I still felt prepared," said Brausen.


"We have to get re-certified in CPR every other year and then we have training exercises the other years that really keep us prepared," said Weber.


In a case where seconds matter, everyone was grateful this had a happy ending.


"If it had to happen, I am glad it happened with two trained medical professionals right next door," said Brausen.

Date Published: 07/22/2014

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