Holly Phail, SMML RN, Helps Save a Man’s Life at Local Meijer

LIVONIA – A routine trip to Meijer recently turned into an astonishing chance to save a life. Holly Phail, an RN in St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s Family Birth Center, was shopping in the produce section when she heard a piercing scream. After looking around for a moment, she saw 82-year-old Livonia resident Edwin Ellul on the ground after suffering a heart attack and fall. A Meijer employee had begun performing chest compressions when Holly raced over to take Edwin’s pulse. “I wasn’t able to find a pulse, so I told the employee to go find a defibrillator,” said Holly.

Holly continued performing CPR with another nurse, using a rescue breather provided by Meijer. The defibrillator detected that Edwin needed a shock, so they delivered one and then continued with compressions until the ambulance arrived.

After the EMTs took Edwin away to St. Mary Mercy Livonia’s Emergency Center, Holly and the others spoke for a few minutes, still surprised by what had just happened. She shared, “When the police department called to let me know he was all right, I felt so much better.”

Holly had a shift the next day at SMML, so she asked Edwin’s unit if she could visit him. While they initially declined, they allowed her in once they learned that she had helped save his life. She said it was a bit of a shock, though a pleasant one, to see him sitting up and talking. Holly visited him a few more times until he was transferred to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor for his heart catheterization and stent placement. Edwin was able to go home after his surgery, and now returns to SMML twice a week for cardiac rehab.

Cathy Agius, Edwin’s daughter, nominated Holly for the BeRemarkable Award at SMML. She wrote, “Holly Phail is an angel and a hero. She went over and beyond by bringing my father back to life at our local Meijer when she walked in to shop and she saw my father had fallen and his heart completely stopped… Because of her he is alive!”

Holly was recognized for her quick actions and willingness to help during a surprise BeRemarkable Award ceremony, with Edwin and his family in attendance. Cathy brought a large gift basket and expressed her sincere gratitude to Holly, saying, “Thank you so much for bringing my dad back to us.”

For Holly, the chance to see Edwin again was so rewarding: “I had seen him in recovery, but it was different to see him up and walking with his family, smiling and wearing his Red Wings jacket. It made it all much more real to me.”

Holly also credited her Basic Life Support (BLS) training at SMML for her quick response, stating that it was so helpful to have that training and instinct to fall back on during a stressful moment.

Holly commented on what this experience has meant to her, stating: “Throughout the pandemic, everyone has felt so disconnected. This near-tragedy brought so many strangers together. It was wonderful to see humanity back, and I loved being able to help and be a part of something bigger than myself.”

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