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Hero Central: Nursing Student Uses CPR to Save Doctor

6:31 PM, Nov 10, 2011   |    comments
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Nursing Student Erin Owens uses CPR to save man's life

  Erin Timberlake-Owens will never forget the day of August 24th. That's the day the Trocaire College nursing student saved a life.

  Erin had driven her husband and three children to Toronto's Pearson International Airport so they could catch a cheaper, direct flight to Europe. They would normally fly out of Buffalo. But they wanted the direct flight because he had to manage their three young kids alone as she had to stay behind to attend classes at Trocaire.   

  Originally Erin was going to just drop them off and leave. But because they arrived so early she decided to wait with her family for their time to check the baggage. That change of airport and change in schedule literally put Erin in the right place at the right time.

  As they waited in the terminal, a man rushed in and shouted that they needed a doctor or someone who knew CPR because a man had collapsed outside from an apparent heart attack. That someone turned out to be Erin who had been trained in CPR at Trocaire.

  When she ran outside, Erin found the man had turned purple with no pulse and no breathing. She was terrified at first with the fear that she might be frozen with inaction. As she puts it "I think everybody worries about how they will react when it really hits the fan. Will they freeze up? But then it just came to me and I started doing what I was trained to do."  

  Her CPR skills just kicked in and Erin started compression and breathing for the man. Airport personnel also assisted with a defibrillator.

  When paramedics arrived they did find a pulse and rushed the man to the hospital.

  As her family left for their trip and Erin returned to her life and classes she became curious about the man, whether he had survived, and whether she had done all she could.

  Those doubts and concerns then dropped away with the arrival of a letter in the mail. The man's wife wrote to Erin to let her know that he was recovering and was expected to be okay. She also learned of a special connection. It turned out the man was a respected retired pediatrician.  Erin, who is a proud mother, then realized she helped save a man who treated children. As she put it "Here's a man who saved lives all his life and then he suffers a heart attack at the airport. And a third semester nursing student performs CPR on him to save his life. That is so, so odd."

  Erin says she intends to write back to the doctor's wife when she finds the right words to express her feelings. And someday she hopes to meet that retired doctor.

   She says her life and death experience has also taught her that she is definitely on the right career path as a nurse in training.    

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