Ruth Ann Berry loves her dentist Dr. Terry Webber and his assistant Norma Lopez. Not only do they take care of her teeth but on a particular April day they saved her life.
By Mary O’KEEFE
Dr. Terry Webber DDS and his assistant Norma Lopez were honored by the Glendale Fire Dept. recently for their “quick and decisive actions” which led to saving a young woman’s life.
On April 28, Ruth Ann Berry accompanied her husband Daniel to Dr. Webber’s office. Daniel had not been to the dentist in a while and Ruth Ann wanted to show her support.
Little did she know that her act of support would become a life saving decision.
“Usually spouses just want to remain in the waiting room when we are working on their [husbands or wives] but she wanted to be in the room with Daniel,” Lopez recalled. She went out to the waiting room only while her husband was being X-rayed.
“She had returned to the room and everything seemed fine,” Lopez said. Webber had walked away to check on another patient and when he returned he found Ruth Ann slumped over in chair and her husband trying to wake her up.
At first Webber thought it was just a simple case of Ruth Ann fainting, which happens often in his business.
“We usually just use ammonia capsules under their nose and they wake up,” he said.
But this was different.“The ammonia capsules didn’t work and she started turning blue,” Webber said.
He laid her on the floor and proceeded with CPR. He could not find a pulse.
Lopez called 911 and then came back to assist Webber. Paramedics arrived, utilizing Webber’s expertise and training.
“They put a mask over her face and I kept a steady flow of oxygen going,” Webber said.
Ruth Ann was still in danger; her heart appeared to have stopped. Paramedics used a defibrillator.
“But the heart didn’t have a good rhythm after the first try,” Webber said.
So they used it again and finally her heart began to beat. Ruth Ann was transported to the hospital. Webber followed her there to make certain she was alright.
Until that day Ruth Ann, who is in her early 30s, had no symptoms of a heart condition. “I was fine but there was a history in our family of a condition called Long QT. It causes sporadic heart rate,” Ruth Ann said.
Doctors diagnosed her with the disease and she went into surgery.
“I now have a pacemaker with a defibrillator,” she said. She has no memory of that April day. She does remember driving her baby to day care and going to work until meeting her husband at the dentist’s office around 2 p.m. What she does know is that this could have been a lot worse if what happened occurred while she was driving or walkingdown the street.
“Or if she decided to stay in the waiting room. We wouldn’t have checked on her until Daniel was done,” Lopez said.
“Thank goodness I was in [the dental room],” Ruth Ann said. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to [Webber and Lopez]. What they did was so wonderful, they went above and beyond everything to save [my life].”
The whole experience took only minutes but for Webber and Lopez
it seemed like a very long time. Webber said in the 25 years he has been at his office at 2021 Montrose Ave. this was the most serious thing that has happened.
He and Lopez recalled that after everything was said and done the reality of the events took hold. “It was after that I panicked,” Lopez
said. “I had to step back and say ‘What did we just do?’”
Webber told Lopez to reschedule the other appointments for that day.
“And we decided to take the rest her life.