Stricken man's kin thank his rescuer
Alexandra Buchee, center, met the family of Jay Gebhardt, whom she performed CPR on when he had a heart attack Sunday. At left, Phil Gebhardt, Jay's brother, and Jeff Gebhardt Jay's brother.
Alexandra Buchee with Susan Gebhardt, Jay's wife.
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A nursing student who started CPR on a Steelers fan who had a heart attack Downtown last weekend reunited with the man's relatives Wednesday at UPMC Mercy, where they thanked her profusely for her actions.
Alexandra Bushee, 20, of Emsworth, was working in a 7-11 store attached to the Doubletree Hotel when Jay Gebhardt, 49, collapsed near a shelf of painkillers.
"The second that he hit the ground I rushed over to try and help him," Ms. Bushee said.
Mr. Gebhardt and his two brothers had traveled to Pittsburgh from Valparaiso, Ind., to attend the Steelers game Sunday, an annual tradition for them. The Gebhardts were raised in Ohio and Indiana, but their mother is a Swissvale native.
Mr. Gebhardt started complaining of chest pains not long after they arrived. Sunday afternoon, while his brothers waited outside the hotel, where they were staying, he walked into the 7-11 and fell to the ground.
A nursing student at Carlow University, Ms. Bushee thought at first that Mr. Gebhardt might be having a seizure. An older couple nearby called 911 and helped her turn Mr. Gebhardt over. When she realized Mr. Gebhardt was not breathing, Ms. Bushee started performing CPR.
"I couldn't do the chest compressions as hard as they need to be, so the gentleman stepped in and continued with the chest compressions," Ms. Bushee said.
Soon, paramedics arrived and whisked Mr. Gebhardt to UPMC Mercy, where he underwent surgery. He was in critical condition Tuesday and had contracted pneumonia Wednesday, not unusual after heart surgery.
"He still has a long battle," said Phil Gebhardt, Jay's brother.
But the Gebhardts believe the three strangers who acted swiftly might have saved their loved one's life.
"It was very touching," said Ms. Bushee. "I can never forget that moment that I met the family and they gave me hugs and thanked me over and over again for doing what I could for them."
The Gebhardts are still searching for the man and woman who called 911 and helped perform CPR, whom they also want to thank in person.
First Published December 23, 2010 12:00 am