English major saves a life with CPR

July 24, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements, Our Employees,

Lifeguard defies the odds in a U-M doctor’s rescue

Rudi Ansbacher, M.D., former chair of the U-M Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.  Somehow he still clung to the pool’s lane line.

“A split second and things may have gone differently,” said Julia Walsh, the lifeguard on duty at the U-M North Campus Recreation Building, fighting back tears. “I’m glad it turned out so well.”

7/23/15 NCRB Staff/Lifegaurd Recognition Award presentation

Like all lifeguards working at a U-M pool, Julia had taken in-depth training for lifesaving skills, including administering CPR and restarting the heart with an automated external defibrillator (AED). She put these skills to work as she pulled the 81-year-old emeritus professor from the pool, giving him a shock through an AED before starting CPR.

She told the Ann Arbor News she went into “robot mode” when she realized he wasn’t breathing.

“It was just do what I have to do and go go go,” she said. “Then when it was all over I was just bawling. And I’m one of those people who doesn’t really cry ever.”

Dr. Ansbacher and his wife Tissy had their first chance to thank Julia in an emotional meeting yesterday, more than three months after the incident.

“It’s great to meet you finally,” Ansbacher said, before hugging Julia. Watch the video here.

Ansbacher said he’s ready to get back to work now that he is fully recovered. He still mentors seven junior faculty members at U-M and focuses on helping women advance into leadership positions in the OB/GYN field.

Julia, an English/Spanish major who graduated from the U-M this spring, was honored from U-M Division of Student Life and the U-M Medical School for her lifesaving efforts.

“This amazing young woman, and the professional and attentive action of this staff made a life-saving difference for our colleague and friend,” said Obstetrics and Gynecology Chair Tim R. Johnson, M.D. “Julia did what she was trained to do and the staff was empathetic and attentive to his wife Tissy who was with him that day.”

“Only 1 in 10 of those who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, but what Julia did more than doubled his chances of survival,” said Robert Neumar, M.D., chair of the U-M Department of Emergency Medicine and national advocate for bystander CPR training. “Increasing CPR training, including making it a requirement for high school and college students, could lead to more happy endings for the 400,000 people who suffer cardiac arrest each year.”