In the spring of 2015, Matt Lickenbrock was headed back to school at the University of Dayton when he saw a CPR kiosk in the Dallas airport. Being bored and waiting for his flight, Matt got up and went over to check out the machine. The skills he learned in the next 15 minutes ended up saving a fellow student's life just a few days later. The student, Sean Ferguson, had been struck by lightning and was suffering from cardiac arrest and 35% burns to his body when Matt arrived.
Cascade had the opportunity to talk to Matt about his experience giving CPR, bystander first aid, and his advice for those who are involved in an emergency situation. The following is an excerpt from a phone interview with him:
Sean, left, and Matt, right, at an AHA event this year.
Can you start off with a little background on the story?
While I was headed back to school from a spring break trip, I had a layover at the Dallas airport. We had about 2 hours or so between flights so I was killing time in the terminal and I saw this kiosk against a pillar with a TV screen and a mannequin. It turned out to be a CPR instructional kiosk that the American Heart Association puts on. I tried it out and it ended up being really easy. You walk up and it runs you through the chest compressions, where to place your hands, how often to press, and how hard to press. And then it lets you try it out and gives you feedback based on how you did. The first time I did it I got a failing score. My hand placement was correct, my rate of compression was correct, but my depth of compression was terrible. The feedback was really important later; it allowed me to feel how to actually do it and be comfortable that I was doing it the right way. I did it a couple more times until I got a score of 100. It took 10-15 minutes. I then got on the flight back home and didn't think anything of it.
Had you had any prior CPR training or healthcare experience before this?
Nope, my only exposure to CPR before that was television. I had never done anything like that or had any training.
What happened when you returned to campus?
The training happened on a Monday when I flew home. That Wednesday, I drove to class instead of walking because it was raining. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a student on the ground, a couple rows in front of my car. There were a couple people leaning over him and a few others on their phones calling 911. A professor leaning over him looked at me and says “Hey, do you know CPR?” Seeing as I had just learned it, I said yes and got on my knees and started doing chest compressions.
I did chest compressions for about two minutes until EMS arrived and they said he had a bounding pulse when he was moved to the ambulance. All of this took about five minutes.
Did anything go through your mind when the professor asked if anyone knew CPR or did your body just jump into action?
Well I immediately thought of the kiosk because it was so fresh in my mind. I remembered exactly how to do it without hesitation. I just said yes and acted. It actually felt pretty similar to the mannequin. I remembered the "Staying Alive" song they played at the kiosk and tried to sing it in my head to keep my rhythm.
It just as easily could have been a sad story. My reason for talking about this a lot is because I think CPR is a really important skill for everyone who is able to do it because it is so easy to learn. You can't afford to not know it. For the time it takes to learn, it is definitely worth it.
Did you ever think you would be using the skills you learned in the airport?
Absolutely not. That kind of goes to show that if you are aware that CPR exists, you should be trained. Even if you think you will never need to perform it. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do, its worth it. If I was on the street and collapsed due to cardiac arrest, I would want others to be trained.
Do you have any advice for bystanders who are questioning whether to react?
It's not really a situation where you can hesitate. The worst thing you can do is not do anything. If you do a bad job, it's still better than not trying. Its also not as hard as it might seem.
Great job Matt on rising to the occasion! We wish you and Sean the best as you graduate college. For anyone reading this, Matt's story is a prime example of how less than an hour of your life in training can save someone else's life. For more stories and healthcare news, subscribe to the Cascade Training blog.
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