CHICAGO — A nurse from Minnesota came to Chicago this week a tourist but is going back a hero to her young sons after rushing to the aid of one of three people stabbed at Navy Pier.
Not only did she apply a makeshift tourniquet on a badly slashed arm Thursday night, she kept her cool as panicked families ran past her, leaving strollers and blankets and even shoes. Then she calmed her 8- and 12-year-old sons when the man drew a knife before police grabbed him.
On Friday, the boys couldn't stop talking about their mother as they continued seeing the sights of the city. "They got excited," said the 32-year-old woman, who asked not be named. "And today, they're still telling people what happened."
The woman said she had only been in Chicago once before, while in high school, but decided to visit this week with her sons after her boyfriend left for his annual motorcycle trip. After enjoying the fireworks show at Navy Pier Thursday, the three began heading back to their hotel.
"All of a sudden I hear, 'Oh my God!' " she said. "I turned to my right and there was this guy standing upright, waving his arms all around."
He wasn't saying much but his left arm was gushing blood. "He was bleeding profusely. There was blood everywhere," she said.
Police said the man was one of three people stabbed during a fight outside the pier about 10 p.m. The other two, 14-year-old boys, were not as seriously injured.
First she made sure her sons were safely out of the way. "I told them to stay put and don't move."
Then it was "all on the situation at hand," the woman said. She quickly thought "did I have a belt?" In the chaos, she forgot if her sons were wearing belts. She asked and they said no.
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A man who also stopped to help "had a piece of fabric or something that we could tie. (The victim) was swinging around, trying to move away from us, holding his arm. We were trying to get him to stop at least long enough to tie the makeshift tourniquet. "
They finally tied it and the man left. But the woman said she stayed with the victim. "He was in and out of consciousness. He would lose it and then pop back up and fight security. Security and I were trying to hold him down to get a real tourniquet on him. Then I would check to make sure he'd not lose a pulse."
He briefly regained consciousness and stood up. "He pulled a knife and one of the officers yelled, 'Knife!' and everybody started running away. My little one started crying. He thought I was going to get hurt. I just jumped out of the way."
She told her boys, "Look, mom's standing right here. Police are between us. Mom's OK. We're all OK." The officers had drawn their guns, according to police.
The man dropped the knife and the officers handcuffed him. All this time people were running past. "They were screaming ... it was chaos." A young woman passed out nearby.
As the scene quieted down, police gave her sons honorary medallions from the SWAT team. "The officers told the boys, 'You did a great job being brave.' ... That was the coolest part."
The woman said she has worked at a hospital trauma center for about a year. "It was instinct. It's not the first time I've stopped for an accident or anything. It's just, I don't know, second nature. You see somebody get hurt and you want to help."
The next day, the family carried on with their trip, visiting the Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium. "They were still telling everyone about it," she said.
After a visit to Starved Rock, they will head back home Sunday.