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Nurses in white uniforms are a time-honored sight, even if they aren’t used much anymore in this day and age. Nurses in wedding gowns are quite a bit rarer. But in Pitssburgh on June 11, that’s exactly what witnesses saw. Julie Stroyne, 24, an ER nurse at Presbyterian Medical Center in Pittsburgh, had just married her childhood sweetheart, Andrew Nixon, 26. It was past midnight on the night the two of them began their life together. But they didn’t expect that Stroyne was about to save a life.
They were exiting the Pennsylvanian Hotel when they heard someone crying frantically for help.
“We’re walking down about here, ready to check into the hotel,” Andrew Nixon told a local news station. They were just outside the Westin Convention Center.
“We were just about to go through the doors,” Julie added, “and then we heard somebody scream, ‘Does anybody know CPR? Is anybody a doctor’?’”
Stroyne, a highly-trained nurse who deals with perilous situations every day in her job, sprang into action.
“I looked over, and I think my nursing instincts took over,” she told CBS Pittsburgh. “And I bolted over to the bench to see if she was all right.”
“I started compressions right away. They told me she didn’t have a pulse.”
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She found a young woman unconscious on a bench. She later found out that a Ke$ha concert had just ended, and the woman most likely had come from the show. But Stroyne wasn’t thinking about that. She just wanted to save a life. She dropped her purse and the flowers she was holding and began giving the woman rescue breaths. It was as if she hadn’t just gotten married and was acting on instinct only.
A crowd, including local bartenders and another young couple, gathered on the street, frantically watching to see if Stroyne would be able to help the young woman.
“I kind of forgot about the day’s activities and focused on saving this woman’s life,” Stroyne told TODAY.
After a few minutes, she shouted to bystanders that the woman had regained a pulse. The paramedics arrived quickly, and Stroyne let them take over.
“She was mumbling, finally, and she tried to get up,” Stroyne told KDKA in Pittsburgh. “And I just kind of like held her hand, and I tried to make sure she didn’t fall.”
“While it was happening, I wasn’t thinking much about my dress getting ripped or how funny it must have looked to see a bride run into action in her wedding dress,” Stroyne said. “I’m just happy someone in the medical field was passing by.”
The couple had been on their way to check into the Westin hotel when the emergency occurred. The friends they had been planning to meet were still gathered there, and no one could believe it when Stroyne told them what had just happened.
Stroyne and Nixon later discussed with the local news station their beginnings as childhood sweethearts (and athletic teammates) and their journey toward marriage, and what it meant to them to save someone’s life on the night they began their life together.
“We grew up playing tennis together,” Julie says. “I was six and he was probably eight.”
“Both of us wound up winning state championships,” says her husband. “She actually won playing doubles with my younger sister.”
Nixon said he proposed to Stroyne on a tennis court, naturally.
“It really did seem that we were in the right place at the right time,” Julie said.
“It was a heroic act, but I’ve known her for long enough, I’m not surprised at all,” Andrew added.
Julie, as a nurse, knows that saving lives in risky situations is par for the course as a nurse. Still, she was surprised that it happened the way it did. She said she “never knew that would happen on my wedding night!”
“She happened to be in the right place at the right time and I’m glad she was,” said Sandy Stroyne, Julie’s mother.
“I’ve known her since she was 15 and seeing what she did Saturday night didn’t surprise me at all,” said her newlywed husband, Nixon. “I’m very proud to call her my wife.”