Hillary Padilla

May 16, 2024
A photo of Hillary Padilla.
Hillary Padilla

Sunday lunch becomes lifesaving moment

Hillary Padilla’s instincts took over during a leisurely afternoon lunch that in the blink of an eye turned into an emergency situation at a Pueblo Italian restaurant.

Padilla, a UCHealth Parkview Medical Center surgical first assistant, was enjoying lunch at Rosario’s with her fiancé and two daughters on April 7 when she noticed Ronald Knudtson collapse to the floor in distress.

Relying on her skills and experience, Padilla didn’t hesitate to respond immediately.

“I knew something was wrong right away,” Padilla said. “The color, he was not responding, he just was not responsive at all. He was like a pale white then started turning a purple, blueish color.”

When Padilla arrived to Knudtson, she began performing CPR.

There also was another woman with a medical background from Colorado Springs dining at the restaurant that day and when they couldn’t feel a pulse from Knudtson, they began doing chest compressions on him.

“I was staying real calm, checking the pulse the whole time,” Padilla said. “We did three rounds of compressions, and he started becoming responsive. We got a pulse finally and he started waking up again. His whole family was yelling his name the whole time, telling him to get up.”

It took more than three minutes before Knudtson came to, and as soon as he was responsive an ambulance transported him to Parkview, where he stayed for about three days before being released home.

Padilla, who never performed these life-saving measures outside of work, said she felt enormous relief when Knudtson regained responsiveness in the restaurant.

“It’s a good feeling when the person comes through. It was a very good feeling I’ll probably never forget for the rest of my life,” Padilla said. “Even though I do work in the operating room, it’s just different. In the OR you work as a team, but when you’re by yourself and with strangers, you know, I just followed the training from Parkview to help me get through this. I was very well prepared.”

Knudtson is doing well now and wearing a monitor for 30 days so doctors can better assess him.

A photo of Ronald Knudtson and Hillary Padilla.
Hillary Padilla, UCHealth Parkview Medical Center surgical first assistant, pictured with Ronald Knudtson in front of Rosario’s. Padilla performed lifesaving CPR on Knudtson at the Pueblo Italian restaurant in early April.

He said he was told the incident might have happened because of a mixture of medications he is on.

On the day he collapsed he had a very low red blood count and low blood pressure, he said.

“I don’t remember much. I ate and told my wife I feel dizzy and I’m going to get up and go to the bathroom,” Knudtson said. “I got up, I staggered holding onto chairs, then got near the bar and I remember touching the bar and starting to fall and that’s all I remember. The next thing I know I wake up and the ambulance is there.”

Without Padilla intervening, Knudtson said he wouldn’t be here today.

“I owe her my life, that’s the bottom line,” he said.

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About the author

Ryan Severance joined UCHealth Parkview Medical Center as a digital media specialist in 2020. Before coming to Parkview, Severance had an extensive background as a journalist having worked at the Pueblo Chieftain from March 2012 to December 2020. At the Chieftain he reported on many different beats and produced video and photographs. Severance earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2010. He lives in Pueblo, Colorado and enjoys sports, golfing, movies and going to concerts.