It has happened to a lot of medical professionals. We are sitting in CPR training and thinking to ourselves, “I am never going to use this stuff.” Something happened a couple of weeks ago that will keep me from ever thinking that again.
It was an afternoon just like any other. I left work at my regular time. Since I live out east, I always drive by Blue River Community College here in Independence. As I turned the corner on Jackson DR, I noticed a couple of ladies standing next to a man who was on a bicycle. As I got closer one of the ladies waved at me, and I noticed a look of panic on her face. I did a U-turn in the elementary driveway, drove back down Jackson and pulled into the college driveway.
When I got out of my car, I noticed that the gentleman was no longer on his bike. Instead, he was lying on the ground. One of the ladies told me he was bleeding, so I looked at his head first. He was bleeding, but on closer inspection I noticed that his color was incredibly pale. “Hello, sir, can you hear me,” I asked him? There was no response. I rolled him onto his back and put my ear next to his mouth, and I tried to feel for a carotid pulse. I couldn’t find one. He was dead.
“I’m going to have to do CPR,” I thought to myself. Just as I had finished checking for a pulse, a Jackson County Sheriff Deputy came around the corner. One of the ladies standing next to me ran out into the street and flagged the officer down. The officer put on her lights, pulled over, got out and grabbed an emergency kit from the trunk of her patrol car.
“I rode an ambulance for nine years before I became a police officer,” she told me.
“I’m an LPN,” I responded.
“Okay, let’s do this,” she told me.
She instantly moved over to the gentleman’s chest. She found his xiphoid process and began chest compressions. I grabbed a CPR mask from her emergency kit, and we started CPR.
“Help me count,” she told me in a very calm voice.
“One, two, three, four, five, six…” we counted together till we reached thirty.
“Breathe,” we yelled in unison and I gave my two breaths, blowing oxygen into his mouth twice.
We continued thirty-to-two cycles for a couple of minutes until Independence Fire made an appearance. We continued CPR while the paramedic on the fire truck got the gentleman connected to a defibrillator.
“He’s in v-tack,” he called out to us. “Get clear so I can shock him.”
He administered one shock and told us to continue CPR, and we did. After a couple more minutes the paramedic informed us that the gentleman was still in v-tack, which is a rapid heart beat, an irregularity that often results in death. He needed another shock.
“Clear,” he yelled and delivered another shock. “I’ve got sinus rhythm,” he called out to us.
I looked at the gentleman and the paramedic was correct. He was breathing again. The firefighters got him onto a backboard just as the ambulance showed up. The paramedic from the ambulance quickly checked things out, look at the sheriff deputy and me and said, “You guys just saved this man’s life.”
So the next time you are in CPR class, and you’re tempted to feel like you are wasting your time, think again. You never know when a complete stranger will need you. On that day, you will be glad you paid attention on training day.