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Wedding Day CPR

Bride Holly (Haskins) Shasteen, RN, surrounded by her bridesmaids on her wedding day.

Once a nurse, always a nurse.

Even on your wedding day.

At least, that’s how the story goes for 27-year-old DMH nurse Holly (Haskins) Shasteen. Still in her wedding dress and married only a few hours, this nurse—always a nurse—saved the life of one of her wedding guests.

With a wedding party that included five nurses and 250 guests looking on, Holly and her husband Jacob exchanged “I Do’s” on May 25 at Decatur’s St. James Catholic Church. Just before midnight, the bride and groom left the reception at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel and headed to their room.

“We turned down the wrong hallway and I saw Sean lying sideways on a couch and Tammy yelling for help,” Holly explains. Sean McCormick, 61, and his wife, Tammy, were also at the wedding and are lifelong family friends.

“I could not get him to respond and there was no pulse,” Holly says. “I yelled to Jacob to go back to the reception and get Meghan, Nikki and Alyssa (wedding party nurses). I then did my best to get him on the floor and began CPR.

“After about 20 chest compressions, Sean regained consciousness,” Holly says.

Just then the other nurses arrived on the scene; 9-1-1 was called; and, in three minutes, the quick-thinking wedding-party response team had Sean hooked up to the hotel’s Automatic External Defibrillator as a precaution and followed Advanced Cardiac Life Support protocols to get him stabilized.

“The paramedics got there quickly,” Holly says. Sean was taken to DMH and admitted to the Cardiovascular Unit (CVU). Two days later, he was discharged home. Sean was told it was a “fluke” incident that involved both severe dehydration and possibly an arrhythmia.

“I don’t remember anything from that night,” Sean says. “But I do have a thankful heart due to Holly Haskins on her wedding day saving my life. It is comforting to know that young people are dedicated to their profession and that when help is needed, professionals like these young nurses will stand up to the cause.”

“I appreciate Sean’s kind words and am grateful he’s okay—but I didn’t do anything that every single nurse or healthcare provider that I know wouldn’t have also done,” Holly says.

Holly’s healthcare career began six years ago when she started working at DMH as a certified nurse’s aide on CVU while enrolled at Millikin University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015. She is currently a second-year nurse anesthesia student in the three-year Millikin University/DMH Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesia program.

“On my wedding day, I was slightly disappointed with how my dress fit—it was a little too big; but now I know why and I’m thankful,” Holly says. “Had my dress fit properly, it would have been much more difficult to move Sean to the floor and perform CPR.”

Just another day in the life—of a nurse. No matter what. No matter where. No matter how. Saving lives comes first. Even if it’s your wedding day.