First-year Feinberg students save man in cardiac arrest

David Fishman, Reporter

Five first-year Feinberg students resuscitated a man who had collapsed on a bench and entered cardiac arrest after exercising in a park near Northwestern Memorial Hospital last week.

The students had ventured outside on April 25 when Feinberg student Jessica Quaggin-Smith said they overheard people whispering about a man who appeared to be having a seizure. Quaggin-Smith said the man looked “off,” and she immediately rushed over to assess the situation.

“There was definitely a brief moment of panic that we would actually have to perform CPR,” she said. “But immediately, I realized that if we didn’t do anything he would die. It was an instinct.”

Quaggin-Smith said she and her friend Carla Berkowitz tilted the man’s head back to free up his airways while Max Kazer began chest compressions. Effective CPR following cardiac arrest can double or even triple a patient’s chance of living, according to the American Heart Association, but Quaggin-Smith said the odds of survival were still very low. While the three students continued CPR, an emergency medicine physician and two other students came over to help.

About five minutes later, paramedics arrived and defibrillated the man. By the time emergency personnel had finished their work, Quaggin-Smith said the man had regained a regular pulse and constant breathing.

Feinberg student Sneha Goswami, who assisted in the resuscitation, said after visiting the man last week she learned that he had recovered with no permanent brain damage. In the days that followed, professors and peers had congratulated the team on their performance, Goswami said.

“The reason that we all get into (medicine) is to help people and … just being able to give him a chance to live is pretty incredible,” Quaggin-Smith said. “It really affirmed for me that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

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