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May 30, 2011

Nurse credited with saving Ill. man after car accident

By Deborah Donovan
Chicago Daily Herald

CHICAGO — Jill Kottmeier earned the gratitude of a Schaumburg family when the Northwest Community Hospital nurse stopped at a car accident and ended up giving CPR to one of the drivers.

"She is our angel," said Kristina Hudzik, 23, the middle of Bill and Kim Hudzik’s three daughters. "I can’t express my gratitude (enough) toward her. We are so very blessed."

Bill Hudzik, 52, had a massive heart attack Wednesday evening in Schaumburg while driving on Holmes Way near Schaumburg Road, hit the accelerator, and his car flew across Barrington Road, his daughter said Saturday.

He underwent surgery for clogged arteries and was recovering at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, she said.

But the four minutes that Kottmeier performed CPR and the several minutes that Schaumburg firefighter/paramedics continued it were critical, said Kristina Hudzik.

"When I got to the emergency room, and the paramedics told me that an off-duty nurse had done the CPR on my father, I said ‘Please do whatever you can to get me her number. She saved my father’s life.’"

While Kottmeier, a labor and delivery nurse, insists anyone would have done what she did, Blaine Krage, spokesman for Northwest Community, said her co-workers disagree.

"Everyone at the hospital was really inspired to hear what Jill had done," Krage said. "She is very modest about it and doesn’t consider herself a hero, but she truly is a hero. Jill saved a life by choosing to get involved and acting fast."

Kottmeier, who lives in Hanover Park, was driving with her 9-year-old daughter, Callie, and 11-year-old son, Jacob, on Barrington Road in Schaumburg Wednesday evening when they saw what was obviously a serious accident.

"I told the kids to stay in the car. At the first car another couple had stopped to help, and they had called 911, too. The man in the car had no pulse and he was not breathing. I gave him a couple of breaths, and he didn’t respond. I did a couple of compressions right in the seat.

"We thought we should get him on the ground. A couple of people got him on the ground, and I continued CPR. Then the paramedics came and continued CPR."

Kottmeier’s own father died 10 years ago on Barrington Road a few miles north of Hudzik’s accident.

"It means a little bit more to me because that’s how my father died," Kottmeier said. "He had a heart attack or blacked out or something and went off the road. Now another family doesn’t have to go through what we went through. I think my dad was by me."

Kristina Hudzik also checked in the emergency room to see how the occupants of the second car were and was relieved they were not seriously injured. She says her father’s job is to transport dialysis patients, and she is also grateful he was not doing that when he had the heart attack.

Kottmeir admitted to Hudzik that when she was at the scene of the accident she had not thought her father would survive.

"I was afraid it would not have a happy ending," Kottmeier said. "I’ve never done compressions on an adult before, only babies."

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