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How Quickly Can Your Hotel Staff React to a Guest Medical Emergency?
Tampa's Embassy Suites Marissa Mack's Quick Action Prevents Guest's Death

By Jose Patino Girona, Tampa Tribune, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 30, 2012--TAMPA -- Marissa Mack was working her normal gig as the bar manager at the Embassy Suites on Palm River Road when the call came Friday night.

She needed to get to Room 589 right away. A guest was having a seizure.

Mack didn't hesitate. She sprinted up five flights of stairs and entered the room to a distraught father and his 24-year-old son, who was in the midst of a seizure.

She knelt down next to Jon Richland and let instinct take over.

"I did what I thought to do in the moment," Mack said.

She let Richland complete his seizure. Then she pinched his jaws, opened his mouth and pulled out his tongue, which had lodged down his throat.

Once she cleared his airways, she worked to calm him down. Richland's heart rate was zooming. His breathing was out of control.

She asked Jon's father, Mike Richland, to wet towels with warm water. She placed the warm towels behind Jon's neck to help soothe him.

She repeated affirmations -- "Jon, you're going to be OK. Everything is going to be fine." -- to calm him down. She focused on getting his pulse and breathing to match hers.

When the ambulance arrived, Jon was stabilized.

His father says Mack saved his son's life.

"If it wasn't for her, by the time the ambulance got there, he would have been dead," Mike Richland said.

Jon Richland was taken to Brandon Regional Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a grand mal seizure. He was discharged Sunday night. Jon had never had a seizure before, Mike Richland said.

The father and son had come from Franklin, Tenn., to visit family in Tampa. The episode caught them both by surprise. Jon began to pass out in the room and his father caught him.

His son stopped breathing, so he massaged his chest and 15 seconds later got him to breathe. He called the hotel's front desk and told them call for an ambulance.

Almost immediately, Mack burst into the room.

"She came running upstairs like an angel," said Mike Richland, 57. "I was watching her in amazement. She was fantastic."

Mack, a 32-year-old Brandon resident, said she's just grateful Jon Richland survived.

"I'm just excited that his son is OK," Mack said. "That's all that mattered."

It wasn't the first time she helped save someone's life. Four years ago, she noticed a high school girl at a Brandon movie theater who looked pale and was shaking. The girl began to have a seizure and stopped breathing.

Mack said she performed CPR and the girl began breathing again. Later, it was determined the girl had a blood clot. The girl is now in college and the two are still friends, she said.

Mack said at work she's known as the go-to person. Even though hotel officials didn't know she had saved someone's life before, they called on her to respond to the seizure in room 589.

"I take charge and make sure that everybody is OK," said Mack, the mother of three children. "I just do it. I don't think about it."


(c)2012 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)

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