Healthy Living

I Saved A Life And Training Made The Difference

02/28/2017 11:40am ET | Updated February 28, 2017

By Christiana Adams

I saved a life.

I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. And, thanks to the great education process at Salem Health, I was prepared and confident to step in and assist.

I’m employed at Salem Health in Salem, Oregon, as an emergency department technician in the Emergency Department and provide direct patient care.

At the time of the incident, I was a unit assistant in Labor and Delivery and typically didn’t work with patients. I was, however, still required to complete CPR training, something for which I give Salem Health a lot of credit. In fact, I had just completed a new type of CPR training just nine days before my life-saving encounter. I love to run, especially in scenic settings.

On this particular June day last year, I decided to tackle Lacamas Heritage Trail in Camas, Washington. My run had gotten off to a good start and was uneventful, but as we all know, things can change in the blink of an eye. Before me on the trail were two men, also sharing a passion for running.

One of the friends, a facilities administrator with 25 years of CPR experience, was speaking with 911 while simultaneously performing CPR on his best friend, who has asthma and went into cardiac arrest when he stopped to use his inhaler about a mile down the trail.

I often wondered what my reaction might be if presented with an emergency. Would panic and anxiety hit me, or would I take action? Now I know. I jogged off the trail, identified myself and asked if I could help.

My confidence level was high due to my recently-completed CPR training through the American Heart Association’s Resuscitation Quality Improvement program. The RQI program keeps CPR skills intact and fresh through quarterly skills practice. It’s absolutely amazing.

The education coordinators at Salem Health call the RQI program “low-dose/high-frequency” training and I’ve heard from the people at AHA that there are actual research studies that show it leads to higher quality and more effective CPR skills. The program uses an interactive manikin to assess your performance, and it provides immediate feedback. For example, it might tell you, “place your hands closer to the sternum.”

When I came upon the men, the victim’s friend had started chest compressions and rescue breaths – conventional CPR. I stepped in to help with compressions and the friend moved to breaths. It was incredible. We worked as a team with the dispatcher on the phone coaching us and providing encouragement.

The running trail is very long so EMS had a very hard time trying to locate us. We had runners trying to return to the starting point to guide the responders to our position. So, we provided CPR for nearly 30 minutes - 30 minutes!

Finally, EMS found us. After three shocks with an automated external defibrillator, the victim was actually speaking while being loaded into the ambulance. Truly, a beautiful sight to witness. The next day he received a pacemaker, and I’m happy to report, has returned to running, biking, swimming and even skydiving. Isn’t that wonderful?

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” On this day, I was in the right place at the right time, and most importantly, with the right skills and training.

I’m grateful to Salem Health for its continual training for all employees and investing in the right tools for us. CPR training is an important skill to learn.

You never know when and where you might need to jump into action to help someone in need. The AHA told me that more than 350,000 cardiac arrests happen each year outside a hospital.

It could happen in a home, a grocery store or on a trail on a beautiful summer day while out for a run. I encourage everyone to consider getting trained so that you, too, are empowered to save a life.

And, for everyone that has a special woman in your life, please educate yourselves about the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases among women at the Go Red for Women website.

The important thing to remember is that anyone can save a life. Anyone. I did.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women in recognition of National Wear Red Day (Feb. 3, 2017). The aim is to raise awareness that heart disease isn’t just a man’s disease, and one in three women died of cardiovascular disease. Eighty percent of cardiac and stroke events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. To read all the stories in the series, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/heart-disease/. To follow the conversation on Twitter — and share a picture of yourself wearing red — find the hashtag #GoRedWearRed.