Mohegan Sun visitor’s heart stops, rescued by Connecticut nurse


Posted: Oct 30, 2021, 1:53 p.m.

Last updated on: October 30, 2021, 7:21 a.m.

A Massachusetts woman was standing on the floor of Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino last week when she suddenly collapsed. She couldn’t breathe and her heart stopped.

Edwards began applying CPR compressions to the woman's chest
Patient Sandra Swenor meets Backus Hospital nurse and supervisor Cindy Edwards, pictured above. Edwards, days earlier, had saved the woman’s life at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. (Image: Backus Hospital)

Cindy Edwards, a registered nurse at the casino, immediately took action. Along with two other nurses, they applied lifesaving techniques known as chest compressions.

Not only was the tribal casino guest revived, but she and Edwards then reunited at Connecticut Hospital, Backus in Norwich, where Edwards was the Eastern Area Employee Health Supervisor for Hartford HealthCare.

Heart attack

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

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

“I looked up. I ran towards her, ”said Cindy Edwards in a Friday interview.

When she was next to her, Edwards said, “Hello, my name is Cindy. I am a nurse.”

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

Edwards placed the patient on the floor. She continued to check vital signs.

There was no pulse. There was no breathing, ”Edwards recalls. Immediately, Edwards yelled for someone to call 911 for paramedics. Edwards also began applying CPR compressions to the woman’s chest.

Soon a second woman approached 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 doing compressions. Without the help of this second nurse, it was difficult for anyone to continuously perform compressions on their own. There was also no external defibrillator available to them.

Soon after, a third woman came. She was also a nurse. This third nurse continued to check her pulse. Soon she felt one.

In a few minutes, the paramedics arrived on the casino floor. They took over and transported the patient to a nearby ambulance.

Edwards suspected they had taken the woman to the nearby Backus Hospital in Norwich. This is one of two hospitals where Edwards worked until the end of the week.

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

“I just wanted to make sure she was successful and that everything was fine,” Edwards explained to his colleagues.

After a few tries, a member of the hospital staff confirmed that 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 performed CPR.

The staff member said Edwards absolutely had to meet her. So she brought Edwards 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 mother told Edwards, she recalls. “Cindy Edwards is my hero.”

Edwards and Swenor spoke for a moment. Edwards told him to be healthy and to stay healthy.

In a good sign, Swenor was released from the hospital earlier this week. She will monitor the situation with her health professionals.

Nurse training, Instinct

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

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

Even though all three nurses participated, many people at the casino continued to play the slots as the events unfolded. It was Edwards’ husband Erin who asked a pit boss to call emergency personnel.

Strictly by chance, Edwards moved this week to Maine to take on a new role 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 grateful for the good health of her family and congratulates her colleagues in Connecticut and elsewhere, especially during the difficult times of COVID-19.

“I will be eternally grateful to have met her,” Edwards added of Swenor. “Now I have a correspondent…. We will always stay in touch.

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