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Nurse saves her father after he goes into cardiac arrest

"It's different when you're dealing with a loved one," Sydni said. "In the background, my mom is calling 911 and at the same time she's yelling, 'Save your dad!'"

INDIANAPOLIS — One of the many things the pandemic has made abundantly clear is that health care workers are true heroes. That's certainly how one Indianapolis father Greg Rucker feels about his daughter Sydni, who is a nurse at Ascension St. Vincent.

 A few weeks ago, Sydni saved her dad’s life after he went into cardiac arrest at home.

"With that specific situation, I don't think he would be here today," Sydni said humbly. "My mom wasn't trained in CPR, so I think it was a blessing that I am a nurse, and I was there at that time, and it all worked out well."

It's a day that Sydni will never forget, but it's one that her dad can't even remember.

"Honestly, I have no recollection of that day," Greg said. "I have no memory of it."

Sydni said both her parents had just tested positive for COVID-19, and she was just leaving the house after making sure both her mom and dad were ready to quarantine together. That's when she heard a thud and realized her father was going into cardiac arrest.

"He wasn't responding," Sydni said. "It was just time for me to step into action. So I told my mom to call 911, and I pulled my dad out of the bed, and I just started performing CPR and doing everything I can to save my dad."

Credit: Sydni and Greg Rucker
A few weeks ago, Sydni Rucker saved her dad’s life after he went into cardiac arrest at home.

Sydni stayed calm and relied on her training, but she knew this was not just another patient.

"It's different when you're dealing with a loved one. In the background, my mom is calling 911 and at the same time she's yelling, 'Save your dad! Sydni, do what you can! Save your dad!'" Sydni said. "In my head, I'm just doing compressions, doing rescue breaths, checking his pulse and just saying, 'Come on, dad! You can do it! you can do it!'"

All the while, Sydni is trying to keep her feelings in check. She said as a nurse, she was taught to put emotions to the side and focus on the job.

"So at the moment, although on the inside I'm screaming, I'm shaking, I want to cry; I just know the mission is to put these emotions to the side and focus on saving his life," Sydni said.

And that's just what she did. Sydni was at the right place at the right time, and her training, quick thinking and composure are the reasons her dad is alive today.

"I consider her my real life hero," Greg said while fighting back tears. "That's my baby. She stepped into action, and she did what she was trained to do. And I'm so proud her."

Once Greg made it to the hospital, he was intubated for seven days, and he also went into cardiac arrest two more times. It's not entirely clear how much Greg's COVID diagnosis was related to his heart problems.

Last Tuesday, Greg went home and is now doing much better. His doctors said Sydni's quick action and skills as a nurse — performing CPR and chest compressions — saved her father’s life.

Credit: Sydni and Greg Rucker
Greg Rucker with his 13-month-old granddaughter.

But Sydni deflects taking credit, saying it just wasn't her dad's time to go.

"My dad has a brand new baby granddaughter," Sydni said about her own 13-month-old daughter. "He still has many things to see her do. You know — walk across the stage at graduation, get married and have kids. His time wasn't done, and my main mission was to make sure that my dad was here to see not only my life but my daughter's life, as well."

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