Off-duty nurse spots stroke in progress, springs into action at restaurant

Cassandra "Sandi" Bradford helped a woman at a restaurant who she correctly suspected was having a stroke. The woman said she was a diabetic, and Bradford, a diabetes nurse educator with Upstate's Joslin Diabetes Center, happened to have a glucometer and plastic gloves in her car, which allowed her to check the woman's blood sugar while waiting for the ambulance. (photo by Jim Howe)

Cassandra “Sandi” Bradford helped a woman at a restaurant who she correctly suspected was having a stroke. The woman said she was a diabetic, and Bradford, a diabetes nurse educator with Upstate’s Joslin Diabetes Center, happened to have a glucometer and plastic gloves in her car, which allowed her to check the woman’s blood sugar while waiting for the ambulance. (photo by Jim Howe)

BY JIM HOWE

If an Upstate nurse had not decided to take a photo after dining out with a friend, another restaurant patron’s stroke could have turned out much worse.

Cassandra “Sandi” Bradford, a diabetes nurse educator, was dining with a high school friend at the Bonefish Grill in Fayetteville Towne Center. After their meal, they stepped outside to take a photo together near the restaurant sign.

Bradford had left her purse in the waiting area. When she returned for it, she noticed an elderly woman with a walker who seemed lost. The woman, who was 90, said she was about to leave with a relative after their dinner.

Bradford and the woman then left at the same time, Bradford through a revolving door, and the woman though a regular-style door beside it.

“Now, you’ve got to picture that I’m in the glassed-in revolving door, and I notice her arm drop off of the walker, and then I notice she couldn’t lift her foot to walk through the door, and I’m looking at her, and I’m saying, ‘She didn’t look like that a second ago,’ so I go back.

“And I hear the person holding the door say, ‘Come on,’ and I looked at her face, and I said, ‘Something’s wrong with her.’ And her relative said, ‘You look like you’ve had a stroke.’ I saw her face, and I turned her around, and I said, ‘Let’s get her back in and have her seated.’”

Bradford let it be known she was a nurse. She asked a hostess to call 911. Then she got the woman seated and tried to get some medical information from her while keeping her calm.

“She could still talk, but her speech was slurred. The right side of her faced drooped, and her eye was closing on her right side,” Bradford recalls. She checked the woman’s pulse and borrowed a light from someone’s cellphone to check her pupils, while waiting for the ambulance.

The woman was initially upset at her relative, Bradford said. “She didn’t realize she was having a stroke and just wanted to go home.” Bradford says the stroke’s effects got noticeably worse before the ambulance arrived.

The woman had a massive stroke. Bradford visited her in the intensive care unit the next day and befriended the woman’s daughters. They stay in touch. The woman has recovered but has lingering speech and movement problems.

Although she now works for the Joslin Diabetes Center at Upstate’s downtown campus, Bradford previously worked with patients recovering from strokes. She has seen how tough the condition and its aftermath can be.

“I don’t think I did anything different than I would want someone to do for me,” Bradford says.

“It really, really touched my heart that I was able to help someone.”

Act FAST if you suspect a stroke

The letters in the word “FAST” stand for “face, arms, speech, time” — the things to keep in mind when you suspect someone is having a stroke.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, like “The sky is blue.” Is the person’s speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you see any of these signs, even if they go away, call 911 immediately.

— Sources: American Stroke Association, National Stroke Association

This article appears in the summer 2018 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

This entry was posted in brain/neurology, diabetes/endocrine/metabolism, health care, Joslin Diabetes Center, nursing, patient story, stroke and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Off-duty nurse spots stroke in progress, springs into action at restaurant

  1. Cassandra Bradford says:

    This day opened my eyes to how acting without a second thought helped save someones life!

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