By Debra Ferrell
The Union Star Editor
A guest who had checked into the Quality Suites in Altavista last week had no idea that he might be "checking out" sooner than he expected. That afternoon, he experienced a near-fatal medical emergency, but thanks to his housekeeper, Gaynell Angela "Angel" Woodruff, he is alive today.
The day began like any other day, as Angel was going through her housekeeping checklist. After five years of working at the Quality Suites, she has her cleaning routine down pat. Traditionally, the week between Christmas and New Year's is the slowest week of the year, but this year, the hotel was bustling with visitors from out of town.
Angel explains that she heard a woman screaming and a loud BOOM when knocking on a door to clean the room. She hurried into the room while calling down the hall for someone to call 9-1-1 and alert the Front Desk there was a medical emergency.
After filling a wastebasket with cold water, she poured it over the stricken man who was first turning red and then turned blue and stiff. She knew from her former experience as a medical technician that time was of the essence. This was the third time during her five years as a housekeeper at Quality Suites that she had been involved in a life/death situation.
"I got another employee to go to laundry and get some clean towels. I kept pouring cold water over the man," she explains. She wasn't getting a pulse when Corp. Gary Wilson from the Altavista Police Department arrived just five minutes later. She continued to administer first aid. After the man we revived by Angel, the Rescue Squad immediately went into action and got him loaded on a stretcher and out the front door.
"He had a lot of congestion and rattling in his throat area. I knew he would be throwing up, so we got a pan for him to vomit those demons right out of him," Angel says. "He didn't know what was going on when he came to."
In the meantime, Angel also calmed down the woman he was with and even braided her hair. The man was taken to the hospital. After recovering, he left without giving his name. Angel, who is deeply spiritual, says God wanted her to be there to save the man's life. "I have carpal tunnel syndrome and almost didn't find my wristband to come to work that day. The Lord put me there to save him," she states. "I thank God for giving me the strength and knowledge to save his life. God told me what to do."
On Friday, the Quality Suites family held a pizza party for Angel and her co-workers where she explained to everyone what happened. Lisa McNeill, Director of Operations of Quality Suites in Altavista, TRU by Hilton in Lynchburg, Hampton Inn in Gretna, and Sleep Inn in Lynchburg, shared that the holidays are often a struggle for some, and she hopes the man will get on the right path now that he has been given another chance in life. She also discussed with Brian Knopp, Regional Director of Sales, the possibility of having CPR training at all their locations.
Sherrie Peerman, General Manager at Quality Suites in Altavista, has worked there 30 years and has high praise for Angel. "She's very dedicated and takes pride in her work. Angel is thoughtful and goes out of her way to help people and make them feel better about themselves."
Likewise, Angel has only good things to say about Peerman, who is her immediate supervisor. "Sherrie is lovable and a very hard worker. She wants the job to be done correctly and often will pitch in to help when someone is out. She is always willing to listen to me. She's a wonderful person and works too hard. I've only known her to miss a day or two in the five years I've worked with her!"
The Quality Suites is proud to have caring, dedicated and experienced personnel like Angel Woodruff on staff, and are happy to honor her for her compassion and quick thinking.