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I've been CPR certified since I was 21 or 22 because I coached high school hockey, but I had never had to use it. When I got re-certified in this Suffolk class, I really wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing, because I was going over to Parcel 12 to be the safety manager and I knew I was going to be in charge of my own building. I wanted to make sure that I was fully prepared if something ever happened. And it obviously paid off.
We were at a safety summit with the Boston Fire Department, so the majority of the safety team went over to Florian Hall to hear about the new BFD fire code and rules and regulations they were implementing. My manager and I were heading to lunch at the Eire Pub after to catch up, since I had recently switched jobsites. My manager was on a work call outside when I walked into the restaurant, and I noticed some chaos going on. I asked the bartender if everything was OK and he told me, no, this man has collapsed and fallen off his stool. He was bleeding profusely, and he was turning blue.
You kick into a gear you don’t even realize you have.
Right then I knew that he needed CPR. I had a moment where I kind of froze as I was figuring out what was happening, but once I had made the decision to get involved, things totally changed. You kick into a gear you don’t even realize you have.
I asked anyone else in the restaurant if they knew CPR; no one did, but there was a woman who was willing to step up and help to relieve me a little bit. I did all the steps they taught me and adrenaline took over — you just get in the zone and just do what you're trained to do.
It was a long period of time. BFD and Boston EMS were tied up with another call, so I was doing compression for 14 minutes, just dripping sweat. There were times where I was getting tired and realizing I wasn’t doing compressions as hard as I should be, and I could see his breathing decrease and his color drain. Those were the moments when I tagged in that woman who was willing to help me, rested a few seconds to get my strength back, and then I would go back at it. When the first responders arrived, basically I didn't stop until one of them got down and started compressions. They asked a couple quick questions and I just let them do their thing because they came in full force. I knew he was in good hands.
I grew up in a house where taking care of people was always top priority. My dad and brothers are all Marines, and my brothers decided to become Boston firefighters like my dad. Just seeing how they interact with people and that they go to work to make sure people get home safely every day, it kind of rubs off on you. We've had instances where we've been at church and people have collapsed and my dad's there giving them CPR. So, we've always just seen that making sure everybody around you is safe and taken care of is part of the day, I guess.
The guy brought his family in to meet me, and it was nice to see his mom, who was very thankful. His sister was crying, saying God forbid, you don't want anything like this to happen to anybody. I’ve had some embarrassment with the attention around all this stuff, but it does feel good to know that the training I learned came in handy and saved somebody's life.
Kelsey grew up playing ice hockey with her three brothers in Quincy, Mass. She started at Suffolk as the project administrator at Winthrop Center and now serves as the safety manager on Parcel 12.
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