My name is Christopher Perez and I will begin podiatric medical school in August 2015 at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. I have an associate’s degree in radiography from Miami-Dade College and I have worked as a radiologic technologist RT(R) at a Miami hospital for several years while completing my undergraduate degree.
While take prerequisite courses to get into the radiography program, I took a mandatory course called CPR for Healthcare Providers. It was a course to teach CPR for those who are about to work with patients in a hospital setting. I really enjoyed the course as I was able to learn CPR and other lifesaving skills. I have to admit though, while taking the course I thought to myself that I probably wouldn’t have to actually perform CPR since I will be working in radiology. Also, patients that may need CPR are often accompanied with their nurse to the radiology department. Boy, was I wrong!
Several years later, I graduated from the radiography program and became a radiographer. I was newly hired at the hospital that I completed my clinical training as a student. One day, I went to do a routine chest x-ray on an elderly patient. The patient was brought down from her room and she was taken to the radiology holding area. I met with the patient and the radiology nurse. The nurse told me that the patient was in “bad shape” and that I would have to “monitor her” while performing the exam. I brought the patient into the room and explained the procedure to the patient. I noticed that she seemed a little out of it but was still nonetheless responsive. I took the two images. The lateral image required that the patient lift her arms and I remember that the patient was able to lift them on her own. I then told the patient that I was going to exit the room for several minutes so that I could develop the x-rays and make sure that they were satisfactory. I felt confident leaving the patient alone because she was responsive the entire time during the exam. After I developed the films, I came back to the room and noticed that the patient was slouched over on her side in the stretcher and she was unresponsive. I checked to see if the patient was breathing and she wasn’t. I pressed the Code Blue button that was in the room and several nurses and technologists rushed to room to help. I started to perform CPR. I began doing chest compressions and a nurse helped by administering breathes with the help of a CPR bag. Several minutes later, the code team arrived and asked us to continue performing CPR. We continued for another five minutes and the patient suddenly began to start breathing again. The patient lived! We were all so relieved that the patient survived. Several days later, the nurse and I were awarded with a Pineapple Award for our actions on that day.
Thinking back at that moment that I found the patient to be not breathing, I didn’t have a chance to think about how I would go about performing CPR. The mental and physical aspect of performing CPR was the furthest thing on my mind at that point. I jumped into action and allowed my CPR training to take over. I’m really happy that the patient survived and I think that if I hadn’t reacted that quickly then the patient would not be here today. It was my first time performing CPR on a live person and not a simulation doll. I believe that if I time to think, I could have overthink the situation and I would not been as efficient performing CPR that day. It could have also led to a different outcome. Since that experience, I have performed CPR two times since that incident.
My advice to medical students and other healthcare professionals is to not overthink the situation. At this point, medical students have received extensive training on CPR and basic life support to be able to save a patient’s life. Just spring into action and let your training take over. I believe that no one is ever fully prepared mentally or physically during the first time that they have to perform CPR. Sometimes things occur like breaking a patient’s ribs during CPR. Just do the best that you could and do everything possible to save the patient’s life.