Putting knowledge into practice: Rapid response saves a life at the AHA

November 19, 2014 – DCRI cardiologist whose work focuses on the importance of everyone learning CPR had to use those skills to save a man who had experienced sudden cardiac arrest at the AHA.

At the 2014 American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions in Chicago, several DCRI faculty members and a cardiology fellow had to put their expertise into practice when medical emergencies arose. Their fast reactions helped safe a man’s life and were integral in helping two other people.

On Sunday evening, just hours after sharing late-breaking results of a study on the need for fast responses for cardiac arrest, Drs. Monique Anderson (pictured, below), DCRI Director Eric Peterson, and Tracy Wang left a reception and found a man collapsed face down on the floor. They immediately ran to help and found he had no pulse and wasn’t breathing.

monique-anderson-newsAnderson, whose research focuses on the importance of immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after cardiac arrest, yelled for one of the doctors to call 9-1-1 as she began chest compressions. Within a few rounds of compressions, the man was breathing again and able to sit up on his own. Peterson stayed on the phone with 9-1-1 until paramedics arrived on the scene and then helped them assess the patient’s vital signs, while Wang helped with the other injuries suffered by the patient in the initial fall. It was the first time Anderson had ever performed CPR outside a hospital setting.

The man was later taken to the hospital and was reported to be in stable condition.

“Panic can set in quickly even with the best-trained professionals, but having somebody there who knew what they were doing, doing CPR, was really key to successfully saving this person,” Peterson said. “And once it was all done, it was such an amazing feeling. This is what we all do and talk about in research, now coming to life.”

“As soon as we saw the man on the floor, we knew we had to get to him,” said Anderson. “We assessed the situation, we called for help, and initiated the information we have learned and practiced.”

For Wang, this was her second encounter with a medical emergency just within the span of a few days. On her flight to Chicago, a passenger had a seizure and Wang quickly jumped into action to help.

Elsewhere at the AHA on Sunday evening, cardiology fellow Ann Marie Navar-Boggan, MD, PhD, was in a dinner meeting when another person collapsed. Many doctors rushed to the person’s aid, but Navar-Boggan was the only one who called 9-1-1 to get paramedics on the scene.

Anderson has dedicated her career to educating people about how to act quickly when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest. She has made it her goal to teach as many people as possible how to perform compression-only CPR, which can significantly improve cardiac arrest survival rates if performed soon after onset. She organized a CPR Day for DCRI personnel several years ago and has participated in numerous CPR training events throughout North Carolina. Her experience at the AHA only confirmed how important it is for everyone to know what to do when faced with medical emergencies.

“I want to reiterate how vital it is for people to act fast in emergency situations and encourage everyone over the age of 13 to learn compression-only CPR,” she said. “This knowledge can really help save lives.”

Read the AHA blog coverage of this story. The News & Observer also covered Anderson’s life-saving CPR efforts.