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CPR saves child's life

Barry McNamara
Nathan Palkovic '09
As a second baseman for the Monmouth College baseball team in 2006, Nathan Palkovic '09 memorably made a game-saving play, cutting down a runner at the plate to help reach the Midwest Conference championship game.

But that moment pales in comparison to the life-saving play that Palkovic made last month in Peoria.

Palkovic, a teacher’s aide at Von Steuben Middle School, performed CPR on 12-year-old Ivy Greer when the sixth-grader inexplicably collapsed at school.

“Without it, the doctors said she wouldn’t be here,” Ivy’s mother, Melissa Edie, told the Peoria Journal-Star.

“I was in the office, and one of the teachers came running down the hall into the office,” Palkovic said. “She said, ‘Ivy’s not breathing. Does anyone know CPR?’”

It was originally thought a seizure had caused Ivy to fall out of her desk, face down onto the floor, so it took a minute or two before a sense of urgency took over the classroom. Palkovic estimated another 30 seconds or so for the teacher to reach the office, and for him to sprint to the classroom.

“I really do not know how long (I was performing CPR),” he said. “It was probably three to five minutes.”

He was able to restore Ivy’s breathing, and paramedics revived her two more times en route to the hospital.

Palkovic was quick to deflect credit elsewhere, saying, “I don’t feel I’m a hero. The whole school reacted in the right way, not just me. The teacher alerted others, they called 911, they went to find someone who could do CPR. It would’ve been pretty easy to freeze, but they didn’t. … I would hope anybody would’ve done have what I did. I just got there first.”

Palkovic first learned CPR at Monmouth College as part of a lifeguarding class taught by former swim coach Keith Crawford. He has taken refresher courses since.

“The focus needs to be on helping Ivy’s family,” added Palkovic. “Her mom is a single mother, and she’s quit her job to be with Ivy during her recovery. I hope people say a prayer for them.”

Ivy is by no means out of the woods, as her cardiac arrest left her with significant brain injury. But by the beginning of May, Edie said her daughter has shown progress and had even laughed on one occasion.

“I almost started crying, I was so happy,” Edie said of that moment. “It’s just day-by-day.”

Since then, Palkovic said that Ivy has made even more progress, saying “I love you” to her mother and counting to 10.

“Brain processes are happening, and we are praying they continue,” he said.

Aside from his dramatic day at the school in April, Palkovic has also been busy this spring with his second career, opening Crossfit 309, a fitness gym in Peoria.

“It’s not your average gym,” said Palkovic, who was actually a two-sport all-conference star at Monmouth. A kicker and punter for the Fighting Scots, he completed his gridiron career in 2007 as the program’s all-time scoring leader. “There’s no machinery, and the emphasis is on functional movements – things like pushing, pulling, jumping and running that you do naturally. It’s all about training for a better quality of life, and we never repeat the same workout.”

Its universality also helps set it apart, he said.

“Everybody can do it. The workouts are infinitely scaleable. A pro athlete and my grandmother can be side-by-side, doing the same workout, just to a different scale.”

If all goes well with her recovery, Ivy Greer just might be a future customer.
(Editor's Note: For individuals wishing to assist Ivy and her family, a benefit fund has been established at Associated Bank in Ivy's name. Donations may be made at any Associated Bank branch.)