Just weeks after getting CPR training for her very first summer job as a lifeguard, Sydney Boe used these new skills to help save a life – but not at the pool.
The Boe family had decided to take a long weekend to enjoy some summer fun in Charleston, SC. While there, they made a quick pit stop at a local Wal-Mart to grab some snacks. It was that decision that made this trip one they’ll never forget.
“We go down to the last aisle and there is an employee, laying on the floor,” Linda, Sydney’s mother, recalls. Linda is a Bon Secours team member who works on our St. Francis Millennium campus.
“A woman is over him like she’s checking his pulse and there’s another woman screaming, ‘We need help!’ So, we dropped our cart and ran over. They said it looked like he was going to talk to one of them, and then he just fell down.”
The mother daughter duo jumped right into action. They alerted other employees of the situation while also trying to revive the man in distress. Realizing he’d lost his pulse, Linda knew they needed to take action. Without an automated external defibrillator (AED) on site, CPR was their only option.
“We turned him over and I’m getting ready to do CPR when I realize I can’t do chest compressions,” Linda shares. “I’m a breast cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy, and I still can’t use my chest muscles very well. So, I yelled to my daughter. She ran right over and just started doing CPR.”
Sydney continued doing chest compressions until a police officer showed up to take over. Then, EMS arrived on scene to help. Linda says it took eight shocks to the system before emergency responders were able to put the man on a stretcher and transport him to a local hospital. With nothing left to do, the Boe family returned to their hotel.
“We were not able to sleep at all. We’re just up thinking about and praying for this poor man,” recalls Linda.
The family was relieved to receive a call the very next day from one of the Wal-Mart employees.
“They were kind enough to call us after getting permission from his wife. Turns out, the man had suffered a massive heart attack, but they said he was going to be fine.”
The employee also told Linda that her and her daughter’s actions were the reason everything turned out OK.
“They said the doctors told them had someone not started CPR when they did, he would not be here today. That still gives me chills – every time I tell it. I told Sydney, ‘You just saved that man’s life!’ It was awesome.”
Linda hopes this incident will inspire Wal-Mart to add an AED at this facility and others. She also recommends that everyone learns how to perform CPR.
“It’s huge,” she says. “Even things you think you’re not going to remember, it comes back to you in the time that you need it. I think everybody should know it – at least to have a little bit of that knowledge in case you need it, because it could be anybody – your spouse, your grandparent, a child, anybody!”
The American Heart Association says nearly 400,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital setting each year, and most of them are fatal. However, if performed immediately, CPR can double or even triple someone’s chance of survival.
Linda is just glad she and her daughter had the training they needed to be able to help.
“You often wonder what kind of person you’re going to be when somebody shouts for help – no matter what it might be. Are you going to be one of those people that look on or are you going to do something? I’m so proud of my daughter for just reacting, coming over and doing that.”
In fact, Linda says this experience may have given the 17-year-old a lot to think about.
“My daughter has always told me she thought she wanted to be a doctor and deliver babies or something like that. But after that happened, she said, ‘You know, I would love to save lives. Maybe I need to do something in EMS,’ or who knows – this could have changed the whole trajectory of her life!”
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