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Aquarium Employee Honored for Helping Save Two Lives in Two Places on Same Day

A man was accompanying his daughter as they were guided through the Newport Aquarium by a sales representative, scouting a possible location for a wedding celebration.

Then, on that January day, the man collapsed.

The sales rep put out an emergency call on the Aquarium's internal radio system and called 911. Alison Ruebusch, who is the operations manager for Ride The Ducks at the Aquarium, sprang into action.

She had the good sense to retrieve the Aquarium's automatic external defibrillator (AED) which can shock someone back to life.

When Ruebusch, who has training in first aid and CPR and instructs both at the Aquarium, arrived on the scene, a nurse was performing CPR. They hooked up the AED and used it to bring the man back after he suffered a possible heart attack.

That man was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Ft. Thomas and later to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati where he recovered after open heart surgery. "And he's still alive today," said Newport Fire Chief Gary Auffart who presented Ruebusch with an award at the city commission meeting on Monday night.

But Ruebusch's heroics didn't end there. Shaken by what had transpired at her workplace, she went to the nearby Target store for a break, or, as she called it, "retail therapy". While trying to buy herself an iPad, a man frantically ran towards her and others yelling that his girlfriend had collapsed in the bathroom.

The woman was in the store's family restroom and the door was locked. Ruebusch was able to get the door open by using a quarter. When the emergency crews arrived at Target, Ruebusch saw the familiar faces that had just helped her in the situation at the Aquarium.

"It really was a whole team effort," Chief Auffart said. Ruebusch agreed.

Several workers from the Aquarium joined Ruebusch to celebrate her honor on Monday. Perhaps best of all, the man who survived the cardiac episode there returned later and booked the place for his daughter's wedding celebration.
 
"It was a happy ending that they were able to book the wedding," Ruebusch said.
 
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
 
Photo: Chief Auffart presents an award to Ruebusch on Monday night at the Newport City Building/RCN