A night out for dinner and CPR

Shelly Haberman
Mercedes Tucker

The following story is being shared by Mercedes Tucker, digital marketing coordinator with C.D. Smith Construction, Inc. who took advantage of a CPR and First Aid course offered through the Agnesian Work & Wellness. To learn more, call (920) 926-5666. Many services are offered to business clients, like C.D. Smith Construction, Inc.

You've probably heard a friend, family member or co-worker say, "I learned CPR years ago, but thankfully I have never had to use it." Or perhaps something along the lines of, "I could probably use a CPR refresher; I don't know if I would know what to do if someone had a heart attack." Maybe, you've heard yourself say one of these phrases.

About three months ago, our company safety director sent out a request to staff asking if anyone would be interested in joining the safety committee for our new office building. Committee participants would take two evening classes to get CPR and First Aid certified. I had been certified in CPR and First Aid over a decade or more ago, but never found the time to get recertified. I always wanted to, I just kept making excuses and was "too busy."

I decided it was time to stop making excuses. Honestly, I think my driving motivator was all the safety initiatives I had been exposed to since starting at C.D. Smith, and with this opportunity, why not learn a life-saving skill?

The courses were easy and informative. The instructional videos were very detailed and visual, explaining what you could expect if you encountered a medical emergency. And the instructors were very knowledgeable and engaging. We practiced CPR on the mannequins, and while a bit awkward, very impactful.

When I passed the training, I was very proud of myself. I even went home and told my family and friends about getting CPR certified. Of course, several of them made remarks like those I previously mentioned; they had learned CPR too but never had to use it and probably wouldn't know what to if something were to happen. They kindly commented, "that's nice, I should probably take a refresher some time too," and that was that. 

A month passed after my training and I was out to dinner with my husband and some of our friends. We were enjoying our meal when I had a flashback to the video we had watched in my CPR class. A woman cried, "He's not breathing! Help! Does anyone know CPR? PLEASE, SOMEONE HELP!"

I was in shock, thinking this isn't really happening, I looked around to see if anyone was responding to the woman's cries. But no one was making a move, all in disbelief. I took a big breath and realized it was going to have to be me who responds.

I got up and rushed over to the woman and told her I knew CPR and asked where he was. We ran back to the kitchen and there was a gentleman slouched over in a chair, unresponsive. The woman explained he was complaining of chest and back pains, then he sat down and stopped breathing. While she began calling 911, I tapped on the man and said "Sir, can you hear me?"

No response.

I called for my husband and our friends to help me get him out of the chair. It took four of us to safely lay the man on the ground. I checked for normal breathing, but nothing. I then immediately went into chest compressions, counting out loud, "one, two, three, four, five, six..." Once I got to 30, I paused and checked for breathing, still nothing. Again, "one, two, three, four, five, six..." And again, "One! Two! Three..!"

At by the third rep of 30 compressions, the man gasped for air. He was starting to come back! But there still was not normal breathing, so, again, "one, two, three, four, five, six..."  I was interrupted part way through my fourth rep of compressions when an EMT arrived and said, "We'll take it from here; good job."

Relieved, I stepped aside and waited. The realization of what had just happened hit me. I found myself shaking with adrenaline, hoping the gentleman would pull through.

Then, the man gave another large gasp for breath, this time trying to talk. He was confused and in pain, but he was responding and trying to communicate. The EMTs loaded him into the ambulance and rushed him off to the hospital for further treatment.

My husband and I would go back a few days later to the restaurant to ask how the gentleman was doing. The staff told us the family gave them an update and explained he had an aortic aneurysm which led to a massive heart attack. The EMTs told the family that most patients with this condition do not survive the heart attack and pass away before they ever make it to the hospital.

Because of everyone's quick action and prompt delivery of CPR, we gave the man the best possible chance for survival. His condition was so severe he needed to be airlifted to Milwaukee the night of the event. It has been three weeks since the incident and he is on his way to recovery. That may have never been possible if I hadn't learned CPR a month earlier.

You never know when you'll need to jump into action. One night you might be out to dinner with friends and find yourself performing life-saving CPR. Take it from me, by taking a few hours out of your busy schedule to get trained, retrained or refreshed on CPR, you could save someone's life. So what's stopping you?

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