Former St. Cloud State softball player and nursing graduate, Lizzy Dwyer ’11, was in the right place at the right time to help save the life of a 4-year-old Montana boy who was critically injured in a roadside accident.
Dwyer was off duty from her job as an emergency room nurse at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center Emergency Room in Kalispell, Mont., when she witnessed a truck hit a four-year old boy.
She administered first aid to the unresponsive child who wasn’t breathing, which was credited with saving the boy’s life.
“I honestly felt like I was in a movie. The string of events after the accident happened so perfectly,” Dwyer said. “The combination of being in the right place at the right time, instinct, years of training, and adrenaline, made it out to be a successful outcome.”
After working a stretch of night shifts in the ER, Dwyer got off work around 7:30 and went fishing for lake trout in Bigfork, Mont., with her father. She was looking forward to a gorgeous drive to the south east side of the Flathead Valley.
“We ate, we fished, and even took a little detour on our way home to check out a fishing access neither of us had ever noticed, which turned out to be the most impeccable timing,” Dwyer said.
At 10:30 a.m., Dwyer and her father were north-bound to Kalispell when they saw a smiling, barefoot little boy running down a hill off to the left.
“We were instantly worried that the little boy was going to run into the road, so we started waving our hands at the truck driving south-bound,” she said.
Dwyer says everything happened so fast. It would have been nearly impossible for the truck driver to see this little boy running down the hill because there was tall grass and some business signs where the path met the highway. Once they witnessed the truck run over the boy, Dwyer instantly did a U-turn and said, “Dad, I have to stop, this is my thing.”
Dwyer called 911, then ran to the little boy to call out her assessment and interventions — including using a pocket valve mask from her car that she received on her first day of nursing school — while they waited for more help to arrive.
The day following the accident, Dwyer was able to meet the victim and his mother in the hospital.
“The little boy’s mother recognized me instantly from the scene and hugged me. It was great to meet her and hear what this spunky little boy was like in real life,” Dwyer said. “I am so thankful for her keeping me updated with his progress in rehab. I am so grateful he is now walking, talking and able to still be a wild four-year-old little boy.”
Dwyer reflected on her St. Cloud State schooling following the event. She said she is considering a healthcare administration career or becoming a nurse practitioner.
“It’s the journey that will make you strong. Don’t have the mentality of ‘why me?’ but ‘try me,’” Dwyer said. “It is my mission as a nurse to be a leader in providing holistic, compassionate, and quality care to all patients and families. I am forever grateful for my experiences at St. Cloud State.”
She credits her professors Jane Bagley, Sue Herm and Georgie Dinndorf-Hogenson with teaching her the foundations of nursing and supporting her through the entire program at St. Cloud State.
“My education at St. Cloud State has provided me with a strong foundation of nursing theory and clinical experiences where I have relied on my strong critical thinking and assessment skills to provide the best care for my patients,” Dwyer said.
The high quality of St. Cloud State’s bachelor’s degree program in nursing is measured by its graduates’ first-time pass rate on the national licensure exam. In 2017, nearly 95 percent of SCSU’s nursing graduates passed the National Council Licensure Examination-RN in their first attempt.
“I want to thank all EMT’s, paramedics, law enforcement and first responders in this country. These professionals deal with such events every day on the job and I commend them for their heroic efforts. The amount of teamwork between all healthcare professionals in tragic situations is admirable and I love being a part of it.”
Outside of studying nursing at St. Cloud State, Dwyer played softball from 2007-10, earning a .331 career batting average, which ranks 14th all-time in the Huskies Softball record books.
“Work ethic, determination, fitness, perseverance, mental strength, and time management are all aspects that I learned being a collegiate student-athlete, which has prepared me for my career and life in general,” Dwyer said.
She credits head softball coach Paula U’Ren with teaching her a lot about the game and about life.
“Now that I have actually lived a little, I can’t thank her enough for the strength she’s instilled in me,” Dwyer said. “Being a collegiate athlete for four years is a huge commitment, but it has taught me so much about maintaining that level of commitment in all that I do, especially when it comes to my profession, health and wellness, and maintaining lifelong friendships and time with family.”