Traverse City Library Staff Helps Unresponsive Woman Found on Bathroom Floor

"We’ve never had a person overdose before. This was the first time for that."

Libraries are known as helpful places. But in Traverse City the staff had to go above and beyond for a medical emergency.

Library staff at the Traverse Area District Library may have saved a life recently when a woman was found on the floor of the bathroom. Staff wasn’t able to wake her.

Library Director Michele Howard says, “We were alerted by a patron that someone was sleeping or maybe in distress in our women’s bathroom.”

It was a normal, quiet day inside the Traverse Area District Library. Until a visitor made an unsettling discovery.

“They found a person in the handicapped stall, I think face down, making a snoring sound.”

While one staff member called 911, another jumped into action.

Deb Radjenovich is the TADL Business Manager and went in to the bathroom.

“She was face down on the floor, so it was a matter of, I had to get under the stall to get the stall unlocked so we could assess the situation. I had no idea what her issue was, I mean it could have been anything,” Deb said.

Howard says Deb “shimmied under the door, and they rolled her over. And 911, based on the symptoms, told her to start chest compressions.”

But Deb says 911 gets a lot of credit for the save.

“I have to give kudos to the 911 dispatcher because whoever they were they knew immediately from the symptoms that we had to do CPR.”

Another library guest, also trained in CPR, was in the right place at the right time.

Howard says, “We actually had a patron who had gloves and the breathing (face mask), step in and start doing breathing while the staff member started compressions.”

Deb Radjenovich adds that once city police got there, “They took over immediately. They were pretty awesome too, they just would not let her die. They just kept going.”

Howard says although this situation was different, it’s also a rule to wake any patron who appears to be asleep.

“One of our rules is to wake people up when they’re asleep. A lot of people think we’re mean or anti-napping. But really it’s to make sure they’re medically okay. Sometimes people will look like they’re sleeping but they’re actually in a medical emergency.”

Coincidentally, the library board just approved a move to give staff access to Naloxone–a drug designed to save people experiencing overdose.

Howard says, “You can’t recognize a heroin addict or pill addict. They’re grandmas and grandpas, they’re young people. It’s just part of what we do as a community center is we have to be prepared for stuff like this.”

Deb adds, “It changes your thought process of who you can see in an overdose. It’s not going to be what you typically stereotype that person to be. And you never know when it could happen. It could be at church, could be in a grocery store, could be anywhere. So you just have to be prepared.”

It’s not the first time library staff has come to the rescue. In fact, just a couple of years ago, Howard says “a gentleman had a heart attack here. Staff did CPR and saved his life. We’re always kind of keeping an eye out for what happens in the library and making sure people are okay.”