Naperville nurse saves man who collapsed at gym

  • Jill Zuleg, an Edward Hospital nurse whose teenage son was killed in 2010 by a falling tree branch during a camping trip, was recognized with the Fire Chief's Award in Naperville for saving the life of a man who collapsed over a rowing machine at a fitness center.

      Jill Zuleg, an Edward Hospital nurse whose teenage son was killed in 2010 by a falling tree branch during a camping trip, was recognized with the Fire Chief's Award in Naperville for saving the life of a man who collapsed over a rowing machine at a fitness center. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/4/2016 10:17 AM

Jill Zuleg couldn't save her son's life when he was trapped by a falling tree branch and suffered a spinal cord injury.

But the decision she and her husband, Matthew, made to donate 16-year-old Kyle Zuleg's organs in 2010 could have saved five others who received the vital parts.

 

Now, Zuleg has been recognized for her swift actions that Naperville Fire Bureau Chief Jim Kubinski said saved another life, this time when a man went into sudden cardiac arrest at her gym.

Kubinski presented Zuleg with the Fire Chief's Citizen Award on Tuesday for beginning to perform CPR on Jim Miller after he collapsed over a rowing machine Sept. 15 at Orangetheory Fitness.

Zuleg, who works as a nurse in obstetrics at Edward Hospital in Naperville, put her health skills to good use when she rushed to Miller's side.

"The only other time she had even performed CPR on another person was when she had to do so on her son, Kyle," Kubinski said. "She hasn't had to as a nurse."

Zuleg conducted one round of CPR, then used an automatic external defibrillator at the gym to apply one shock. The combination of her efforts helped Miller regain a pulse, Kubinski said, just in time for paramedics from the Naperville Fire Department to arrive and take Miller to the hospital. By the time paramedics left the hospital, Miller was alert and talking to them.

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Kubinski said Zuleg's ability to step in during a health crisis adds to all the good she and her family have done through the Kyle Zuleg Foundation, also known as Kyle Shines On. The nonprofit organization donates blankets with the message "Forever in our Hearts" to hospitals so they can be given to comfort the families of organ donors.

It also raises money for scholarships for Naperville-area high school students who plan to pursue a degree in media communications, which Kyle wanted to study to be a sports commentator.

Zuleg was one of four people recognized with a Fire Chief's Citizen Award during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Christine Clutter, John Depasquale and Jeremiah Nast also received the honor for their actions to save a man who collapsed and stopped breathing Sept. 23 at Edward Health & Fitness Center.

Clutter heard the man fall and activated a staff response team; Depasquale brought over the AED and started CPR; Nast administered two shocks from the AED before paramedics arrived. The man was able to breathe on his own by the time he arrived at Edward Hospital and is now recovering, Kubinski said.

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