Nurse saves overdose victim in car crash

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Austin Montgomery/Beloit Daily News Registered Nurse Thad Regenold at Beloit Area Community Health Center and the long-time CHS staffer helped save the life of a Beloit woman last month from a heroin overdose.

BELOIT - Beloit Community Health Center's Thad Regenold is no stranger to helping Stateline Area residents make healthy lifestyle changes, but it's not every day when a split second decision he makes saves a life.

On June 15, the registered nurse and Beloit native helped save a Clinton woman from a heroin overdose after getting off work at the clinic and witnessing a car crash into the sidewalk near Elder Beerman. Regenold's quick actions to remove the unconscious woman from her vehicle and place her in a "recovery position" on her side before Beloit EMS and police arrived are being touted by clinic staff as extraordinary.

Regenold serves as the clinic's diabetic health educator and has worked there since 2009. He sees around 50 patients each month, helping area residents get a handle on how to make healthy changes once they're diagnosed with diabetes.

He said the actions he took to save the woman's life were easy to make, and he relied on his previous nursing experience to keep level-headed.

When he saw the car go up onto a curb, he knew something was wrong.

After getting the overdose victim out of her vehicle, he monitored her vital signs before Beloit paramedics and police arrived at the scene.

"She was blue in her face and extremities, and I just tried to make sure she was OK," Regenold said.

Once authorities arrived on scene, paramedics administered Narcan, an opiate inhibitor, multiple times, successfully bringing the woman back to consciousness, according to court records of the incident.

After stepping away from the situation, Regenold said he was able to reflect on the dramatic scene.

"I knew what had to be done, so it was a matter of staying calm and getting it done," he added.

This isn't the first time he's saved a life. While at Beloit Memorial High School, he rescued a classmate who couldn't swim from the bottom of the high school swimming pool. While working at the Rock County Jail, he also said he'd been involved with intense, fast-paced scenarios while caring for inmates.

The health care professional serves as the clinic's CPR instructor, and urged residents to get certification.

"I tell everyone they should be trained well enough to save my life," Regenold said. "We make sure we're doing things the correct way because you never know when you may be called on to act."

In the coming months, Regenold said he hopes to oversee a weekend CPR course that's open to the public.

As an educator, Regenold takes time working with patients, and his relatable and authentic nature shine through as he interacts with staff and those in his care. As a diabetic who has been on medication for 10 years, he's able to break down barriers or assumptions patients might have if this is their first time learning of a diagnosis.

"I try to make it personal," Regenold said. "I can help relate to patients in real life what my experiences have been taking a medication or what I may know from someone else and it helps me relate to patients more quickly."

He urged Beloit police to consider carrying Narcan, and also urged residents to pay attention to their neighborhoods and to report any suspected drug activity. To prevent young people from getting hooked on opiates, he stressed those on medication lock up prescriptions to prevent habit-forming behavior.

The Beloit Fire Department currently administers Narcan in the city, while Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski citing the cost of training officers to administer the drug and the nature of overdose call responses as reasons the department currently does not offer the on-scene treatment. Zibolski added the department responds with Beloit paramedics from the Beloit Fire Department to all overdose calls.

"I think they should be trained on how to use it," Regenold said.

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