Kimberly J Johnson submitted 2020-08-29

As a young child I had one of the most important tasks imaginable: saving a life. Around the age of 12 my family took a road trip to Michigan like many times before, but this time would be different. As the oldest of the children attending this trip I was given the responsibility of monitoring the children during swim time at the pool. While having a great time in the hotel swimming pool my younger sister (age 4) fell into the deep end from the concrete platform. She began to gasp for air and drown due to her inability to swim. Instantly noticing her frantically flail around for help I jumped in to save her. One could say it was my adrenaline because I had only recently completed my own swim lessons. I grabbed her and pulled her back onto the concrete platform. I laid her on her back and performed CPR as best as I could remember. My swim instructor deemed it important to teach us CPR because he was once a lifeguard and believed it is important to know this life saving skill no matter the age. I breathed into her until she began to cough. In that moment with adrenaline rushing through my body all I could mentally think about was saving her life, and not having to explain a tragic accident to my parents. My physical body responded without cease because she was my sister and I loved her enough to do what I could to keep her here with me. I decided in that moment that I wanted a career in the healthcare profession. I wanted to help others in need and give my all toward the betterment of their wellbeing. I went on to get my CPR certification in adulthood and maintain a BLS-CPR-AED certification.

I currently work as a clinical therapist in a psychiatric hospital and want to advance my education to obtain a bachelor’s in nursing and ultimately a master’s degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I aspire to aid in spreading the importance of breaking the stigma of mental health and creating a collaborative approach with medical providers to instill the importance of assessing mental health while administering medical care within the community.

It is imperative to know CPR in my work setting as it is truly life or death. The patients I serve are in an altered mental state and many behave in ways that can inflict harm on themselves causing airway restriction or even death (suicide). There have also been occurrences as simple as a patient aspirating on their meal which has garnered the need to administer CPR and BLS. These measures in turn saved their life. During this incident the staff responded quickly. The patient coughed and slumped over coding rapidly. The staff immediately preformed CPR reviving the patient and ensuring the airway was cleared. Upon her recovery, her vitals were taken for maintenance of stability by the nursing staff. Every second matters when BLS and CPR is necessary. Lackadaisical administration of BLS and CPR tactics can cost someone their life.

I have BLS-CPR trained multiple times using our simulator mannequins. The computer simulation can be very difficult which has resulted in me training my body to the point of tire and sweat. Many times I sing songs while compressing to the beat to ensure the accuracy, depth, and frequency were properly administered. I revert to that 12-year-old girl who just wanted to save her sister. I remain calm and hyper-focused on the patient, giving them all I can.

Mentally, I envision the patient as one of my family members. I also think about the patient’s family; how relieved they would feel knowing their family member is recovering from a tragic accident. I empathize with the feeling of losing a family member and aim to administer the CPR and BLS to the best of my abilities to avoid that feeling of loss being placed on the patient’s family.

If I had to give advice to healthcare workers and providers on the importance of CPR/BLS, I would say remember to A.C.T (ACT). First: pay Attention to the patient and any signs or symptoms of critical change in function and even recovery. Secondly, remain Calm. In situations of elevated stress our initial reaction can be to panic, remaining calm is drastically important as the patient is already in distress. Lastly, remain Trained. Practice, practice, practice. By remaining consistent with your training, it helps to minimize uncertainty when the time comes to save a life.