Good deed carried its own reward

by Troy Anderson

Sunday, September 22, 1996
Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon)

A chance meeting last week of two nurses in a Medford shopping center parking lot saved one's life and forever changed the other's.

Gretcha Estenson saved Mary Fisher's life after Fisher suffered a heart-stopping attack as she was leaving Albertson's last Sunday with a bag of groceries.

Fisher's revival changed the life of Estenson, who has struggled with unresolved grief since unsuccessfully attempting to save her parents after a car accident a decade ago.

"The whole thing for me was a miracle," said Fisher, who was recovering at her home Saturday after her release from Rogue Valley Medical Center. "I feel quite blessed."

The incident occurred last Sunday morning. Fisher, a retired nurse, was carrying a bag of groceries to her car when she fell in front of the Donut Den on Biddle Road.

"The funny thing is she had bought toilet tissues, had fallen on her side and the paper cushioned her head," said Estenson, a RVMC cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor who was having coffee with her husband at the donut shop.

Store owner Sue Srisarakorn already had rushed outside to help Fisher, who she discovered had no pulse but was still breathing. "It looked like she couldn't quite catch her breadth,'' Srisarakorn said.

"Finally, she stopped breathing. I turned her on her back and she started turning blue in her face and mouth. I asked if anybody knew CPR.''

Looking around, Srisarakorn saw Estenson, who along with an unidentified woman performed CPR on Fisher and revived her after a couple of minutes. An ambulance summoned by a store customer, took Fisher to Providence Medford Medical Center. She later underwent surgery at RVMC to implant a pacemaker and cardiac defibrilator.

Later, when Estenson visited Fisher at the hospital, she told the woman how the experience helped her make peace with the death of her parents.

"I believe this happened for a reason," Estenson said. "I had unresolved issues with the deaths of my parents and it helped me work through that. (Fisher) has children, family, and grandchildren and I was just really thankful to save them the grief I felt when my parents passed away."