President Reagan's nurse shares her story
Friday marked the 31st anniversary of the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan. As our Vince Gallagher reports, for one woman, it was a special and defining part of her life.
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CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. -- Robyn Ringler is the owner of East Line Books in Clifton Park. She was also a nurse at George Washington University Hospital when tragedy happened on March 31, 1981.
"Suddenly all the call lights went on, and we as nurses were answering the call lights and everyone was pointing at the television, people were crying, they said Ronald Reagan has been shot," said Robyn Ringler, President Reagan’s nurse.
And within minutes, Ringler said she heard the president was coming to her hospital. She didn't think the former leader of the free world was going to become her patient, but that changed.
"After surgery he came to my floor and he stayed there for ten days, so I was his evening nurse where he stayed for ten days until he could get well enough to go back to the White House,” said Ringler.
And although the president eventually did pull through, Ringler said at first, he was fighting for his life.
"The pale skin, the grey color, the wheezing, difficulty breathing, some disorientation, high fever… I left after the first two nights not knowing whether the president was going to live or die,” said Ringler.
But things turned out for the better, and now she can relive those days in the form of mementos, including a special gift and ‘thank you’ note from the White House.
“I was shocked the day it came, it was a thrill to get it but amazingly enough the next several years after that I received Christmas cards from the White House as well," said Ringler.
And a few photographs....
"This is a picture of me with the head Secret Service agent Jerry Pare,” explained Ringler.
Pare was the agent that got Reagan into the presidential limousine right after the shooting.
"And this is a picture of me with two of the Secret Service agents, and we're right outside of Ronald Reagan's room," said Ringler.
In addition to meeting and caring for the former president, this whole situation affected Robyn in another way. After this incident and some others, she became an advocate for gun control.
"Why did John Hinckley have a gun? Why do people, why are there so many shootings in the United States? So really that whole experience, that whole situation, really affected my life in a big, big way,” said Ringler.