You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

CPR/AED training helps Key West waitress save a life

Brenna Patryn is a waitress who does much more than make sure her customers receive the right meal at the right table. She also saved a customer’s life.

On January 11, a Massachusetts couple was on their first trip to Key West, and found Two Friends Restaurant. After their meal, Wade Crawley got up to sing karaoke. Just a few notes into “Margaritaville,” he collapsed.

Brenna, who had completed a cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automatic external defibrillator (CPR/AED) training class just that week, responded immediately. She began chest compressions, while about 30 people gathered. Some called 911, another gave rescue breaths, and others cleared the area for the ambulance.

“It’s a terrible position to be in, to not know what to do,” manager Jeff Capas said later. “I think we all need to learn CPR.”

Betty Crawley, 60, and her husband Wade, 63, have been married just over a year, and she was aware of his medical history, which includes 5 heart attacks and 2 strokes. But this collapse was not caused by his hereditary heart condition. Doctors at Mt. Sinai in Miami later told her that he had Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome, caused by a problem with his electrolytes, perhaps made worse because of dehydration from the hot Florida weather. The Crawleys had begun their Islamorada vacation 10 days earlier.

“If this had happened here with just us at home, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it,” she said, referring to their vacation location in Islamorada. “Thank God we were in a restaurant and there was someone trained.” Wade was taken to Florida Keys Medical Center, and later transferred to the Miami hospital. He was hospitalized for 11 days and treated for other conditions.

Upon their return from the hospital, Betty began to track down the woman who had saved her husband’s life. She and Wade’s sister met with Patryn and thanked again for her actions.

“We have never experienced the warmth and generosity given so freely by a community and we would like to thank Jeff Capas and his fantastic staff at Two Friends. A big kiss and endless thanks to Brenna for saving Wade's life. To the Key West Police and Rescue - Great job. LKMC ER (emergency room) and ICU staff for their swift action and compassion,” she writes in a letter to Key West’s mayor Craig Cates.

Betty, Wade and their two friends from Rhode Island went back to Two Friends on Feb. 9, so that Wade could finish that tribute to Jimmy Buffet.

“I’m just happy he lived,” Brenna, 27, said as they reunited. “I just felt like somebody needed to do something. I played a very small part.” Mayor Cates is expected to recognize Patryn at a future City Commission meeting.

The Westport, Massachusetts, residents are now relaxing for the remaining of their winter vacation, and Betty has signed up to take a CPR/AED training course with the Red Cross in the Upper Keys on Feb. 23rd.

Red Cross CPR/AED training is offered in the Upper Keys Feb. 23 and in Key West March 23. Call 296-4033 to register for either class.

To find out about other Red Cross trainings near your neighborhood, please visit