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Hero Nurse Helps Save Man in Lynbrook Movie Theater

South Nassau Nurse, Lynbrook Police Officers, Fire Department & First Responders Revive Victim on Easter Morning

Posted: May. 2, 2019

Shyvonne Allen-Ibitoye woke up Easter morning intent on going to church. In an act that would soon hint of “divine intervention,” that plan changed when her 17-year-old son asked if they could go to see the 11:55AM screening of Shazam! at the Lynbrook Regal Multi-Plex, then go to church in the afternoon.

Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye, of Springfield Gardens, Queens, a registered nurse who serves on the Telemetry Unit at South Nassau Communities Hospital, agreed and took her son to the movie.

DeShawn Mason, a 48-year-old Far Rockaway resident and New York City School System Parent Coordinator, took his 7-year-old grandson to see the same show. Immersed in the action, he sipped on a Slurpee. Finishing the Slurpee and feeling the chest pain was his last memory of the day.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye took note of a gentleman, later identified as Mr. Mason, sitting a few rows behind them snoring. Listening to the man’s labored breathing, Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye’s training kicked in.  She sensed something wasn’t right and quickly recognized the man’s breathing pattern as “agonal” and that there was no time to spare to save Mason’s life.

Agonal respiration, or gasping, is an indicator of an impending cardiac arrest, and the sooner CPR or uninterrupted chest compressions is applied the greater the chance the victim has of surviving. In fact, nearly 45 percent of people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive if bystander CPR is administered quickly.

Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye sprung to action: she checked Mr. Mason’s pulse, which was faint; recognized that he was sweating heavily; tried to wake him but was unable to do so; applied a ‘sternum rub,’ then she yelled out that there was an emergency, asked for the lights to be turned, and told her son to call 9-1-1 from his cell phone.

Her call to have the lights in the theater turned on went unanswered, so she went outside into the lobby to tell ushers that there was an emergency. She returned, found Mr. Mason was without a pulse and started administering live-saving CPR.

Theatregoers jumped into action as well, lifting Mr. Mason out of his seat to put him on the floor, making it easier for Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye to administer the chest compressions. A retired South Nassau nurse also joined in to help, and they alternated providing the chest compressions until first responders with Lynbrook Volunteer Fire Department and Lynbrook Police Department arrived. Two Lynbrook police officers, Kevin Hoffman and Jeff Burke, assisted administering CPR as did Lt. Jim Bryne and Ex. Captain Cathy Bien of the Lynbrook Emergency Medical Company. Lynbrook Fire Department Chiefs Nick Pearsall and Michael Brooks also assisted in administering CPR.

The police officers used an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to administer three shocks to Mason’s heart to try and restore its normal rhythm. Northwell paramedics later arrived and started advanced life support measures.

Mr. Mason was transported to South Nassau’s Emergency Department, the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County, where he was stabilized and then moved to South Nassau’s award-winning cardiac unit.

Richard J. Murphy, South Nassau’s President & CEO, said Allen-Ibitoye’s quick thinking and proactive approach epitomize the dedication and caring of South Nassau’s nurses as the hospital prepares to celebrate Nurses Week.

“She responded to check on a stranger in a darkened movie theater and helped save his life,” said Murphy. “She is exactly the kind of nurse we are proud to work with here at South Nassau. Our nurses are on the front lines of providing care and they do so in the communities we serve and in the hospital at bedside. We are so very proud of Shyvonne for her life-saving actions.”  

Mr. Mason also expressed his gratitude.

“I was drinking a Slurpee and it was really cold,” he recalled. “Then I blacked out. I don’t remember anything after that except when I woke up here. I feel like there was divine intervention. If she, Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye, had not been there, I don’t know if I would be here. It seems like everything happened for a reason, and now I have what I need to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” referring to his new ICD or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a device he will now wear to monitor his ventricular tachycardia.
   
At South Nassau, Mr. Mason was diagnosed with ventricular fibrillation which happens when the heart “quivers” and does not beat.  A defibrillator is used to shock the heart, stop the quivering, and do a reset. Mason underwent a procedure at South Nassau during which a small ICD was implanted under his skin to track his heart rhythm and deliver a shock if needed should ventricular fibrillation reoccur.

Dr. Lawrence Kanner, chief of cardiology and director of electrophysiology and arrhythmia services, said Mr. Mason is extremely fortunate that Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye was in the Lynbrook theatre at the time of his attack. Her actions and those of the Lynbrook police likely saved his life.

“Without the CPR and defibrillator treatments being administered in the field, he may not have made it,” said Dr. Kanner.
 
Nurse Allen-Ibitoye said she is just grateful that Mr. Mason is feeling better and that her training was able to help him.

“I knew something wasn’t right with him,” said Mrs. Allen-Ibitoye. “When he didn’t respond, I started compressions (CPR) until the paramedics arrived. I’m just glad everything worked out. When I saw him awake in the hospital, it warmed my heart to know that he was ok.”

The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, South Nassau® Communities Hospital is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care. South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons, and is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program.

The hospital has also been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval for disease-specific care for stroke, hip and knee replacement, heart failure, bariatric surgery, wound care and end-stage renal disease.  For more information, visit www.southnassau.org.