Keep Pushing

My wife, Jana, and I, along with our sons, Kody and Tyler, were finally on the way for our family dive trip and vacation. After long delays, we were excited to be in a short line for the gate agent to check us in for our destination. While waiting, we heard a scream for help and an airport employee yelling for a medic.

Kody had recently graduated as an emergency medical technician (EMT), so he and I ran toward the yelling and saw a man on the ground. I did a quick scan to ensure the area was safe and to see if there were other victims or signs of bleeding or other trauma. There was only one victim and no other signs of visible trauma. A man to his right was trying to get a radial pulse, and several bystanders were watching to his left.

I said we were EMTs and asked the bystanders if we could get next to the victim to assess him and try to help. We could hear agonal respirations as I began taking a carotid pulse while checking for responsiveness. Getting no pulse or response, I confirmed with the other man that he had found no radial pulse. I shouted for someone to call 911 for emergency medical services (EMS) and to bring us an automated external defibrillator (AED); I was told that EMS was coming and an airport staff member was getting an AED.

The situation warranted CPR. Even though I had performed CPR before, I was hit with the same reality as always: The outcome is never certain, but we had to try. I took a deep breath to slow my own heart rate and concentrate on the task. The other man helping us obviously had some previous experience based on his composure, initial intervention and willingness to help.
I looked to him and said, “We are going to do CPR.” Without hesitation he nodded and said, “Just tell me what to do.”

As I exposed the victim’s chest, airport staff arrived with an AED. I asked the other man to begin compressions while I set up the AED, reminding him to push hard and fast for 30 compressions. After I made sure his hands were in the correct position above the xiphoid process of the sternum, he began compressions while I worked quickly to turn on the AED and place the pads on the victim. Kody got the pocket mask from the AED kit and was ready to give rescue breaths after opening the victim’s airway with the head-tilt, chin-lift method.

After the man counted to 30 compressions, Kody attempted to give the first rescue breath. I did not feel or see adequate chest rise, so Kody adjusted the victim’s airway to open it more and got a slight rise with the second breath. After I performed the next set of compressions, Kody gave him two more breaths. The victim’s chest rise now signalled an open airway.

As I began the third set of compressions, the AED announced it was analyzing, so
 I loudly said, “Clear the patient.” The AED said to deliver a shock. I repeated “clear,” visually confirmed we were clear of the patient, said “delivering shock” and pressed the shock button. Expecting the victim to jolt, we were surprised when nothing happened; the AED said to check the pads. I asked the man to resume compressions while I checked the cables and pads. The plug was inserted securely, the cable appeared intact, but I found one pad not firmly attached to the victim’s upper right chest. Pressing firmly, I stuck it back down.

The terminal was starting to get noisy. We continued with CPR, alternating who delivered compressions every set to keep the quality high and our fatigue low. I asked a staff member and Tyler, who had now arrived, to repeat what the AED said so we didn’t miss any prompts amid the noise. Despite the busy background around us, we were operating as a team with clear communication.

The AED alerted us to shock again, so we got clear and delivered the shock. The victim’s body jolted from the ground as expected this time, but we still had no response from the victim, and the AED advised us to continue CPR.

After we delivered two more sets of compressions and another shock, the victim’s right hand moved. We looked at each other in surprise to confirm what we saw. I immediately checked and found a pulse. The victim reached toward his chest and began groaning but couldn’t respond to our questions. He started to roll, scratching at my arm and trying to bite us. Still not responding to our commands to remain calm or his wife’s voice, he was growing more and more combative.

The EMS unit arrived with the police and began helping us secure him as I gave them a brief summary of events. Paramedics gave the victim a sedative, hooked up their equipment and secured him on a stretcher to whisk him away in the ambulance.

After taking a moment to gather ourselves, our team gave our information to the EMS and police, followed by some high fives and hugs of relief. Our teamwork, communication and training paid off and helped save a life.

KEEP YOUR CPR SKILLS CURRENT. Contact DAN® to find a certification or refresher course near you. I teach this class many times throughout the year, and many students aren’t aware how often CPR skills are used, usually on family and friends.

COMMUNICATE. Even though we didn’t know everyone’s skill level while arriving on the scene, we were able to work together to help the victim and each other.

BREATHE AND STAY CALM. During an emergency your composure and ability to stay calm in the moment is key to helping your victim and your team.

SHARE. CPR will not always go perfectly. You may have to adapt and overcome some hurdles, but sharing your experience helps others build their knowledge base and be better prepared for the unexpected.


After anaesthesia Air Quality Air exchange centre Air hose failure Altitude changes Altitude sickness Ama divers Anaerobic Metabolism Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Arterial gas embolism Arthroscopic surgery Aurel hygiene BCD Badages Bag valve mask Bandaids Barbell back squat Bench press Blood flow Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath hold Breath-hold Breathing Gas Breathing Bruising Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CMAS CO2 Cabin pressure Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Carbon dioxide Cardio health Cardiomyopathy Chamber Safety Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Chemotherapy Cleaning products Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care Cold Compressed gas Conservation Contaminants Contaminated air Corals Courtactions Crohns disease Crystal build up Crystallizing hoses Cutaneous decompression DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS DM training DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Deco dives Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression illsnes Decompression treatment Decompression Diaphragms Diseases Dive Chamber Dive Industry Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Pros Dive Research Dive Training Dive accidents Dive buddies Dive computers Dive gear Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive safety Dive staff Diveleader training Diveleaders Diver Profile Divers Alert Diving Kids Diving career Diving emergencies Diving guidelines Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Domestic Donation Dr Rob Schneider Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits EAPs EAP Ear pressure Ear wax Ears injuries Education Emergency action planning Emergency decompression Emergency plans Emergency underwater Oxygen Recompression Emergency Enviromental Protection Environmental factors Environmental impact Environmental managment Equipment care Evacuation Exercise Extended divetime Extinguisher Extreme treatments Eye injuries FAQ Failures Fatigue Faulty equipment Fire Coral Fire Safety Firefighting First Aid Equipment First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Fitness Flying Francois Burman Free diving Free flow Freedive Training Freediver Freediving performance Gas Density Gas laws Gas mixes GasPerformance Gases Gastric bypass Gear Servicing Gordon Hiles HELP HIRA Haemorhoid treatment Hazard Description Hazardous Marine life Health practitioner Heart Health Heart Helium High temperatures Hot Humans Hydrate Hydrogen Hydroids Hydrostatic pressure Hyperbaric Chamber Hyperbaric research Hypothermia Immine systems In Water Recompression Indemnity form Indian Ocean Inert gas Infections Instinct Instructors Insurance Integrated Physiology International travel International Irritation Kidneys Kids scubadiver Labour laws Legal advice Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Liability releases Liability Life expectancy Lifestyle Low blood pressure Low pressure deterioration Low volume masks Lung function Lung injuries Lung MOD Maintenance Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Master scuba diver Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical questionaire Medical statement Middle ear pressure Mike Bartick Military front press Mixed Gas Mono Fins Mooring lines More pressure Muscle pain Mycobacterium marinum Nautilus Nitrogen build up Nitrox No-decompression Non-rebreather Mask Normal Air Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean pollution Orbital implants Oronasal mask Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deficit Oxygen deicit Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Oxygen P J Prinsloo PFI PJP Tech Part 3 Photography Pistons Planning Plastic Pneumothorax Pollution Pool Diving Preparation Prepared diver Press Release Professional rights Provider course Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Purge RAID South Africa RCAP Radio communications Rashes Recompression chamber Recompression Recycle Regulator failure Regulators Regulator Remote areas Renewable Report incidents Rescue training Resume diving Risk Assessments Risk assesments Risk elements Risk management SABS 019 Safety Stop Safety Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scuba Air Quality Scuba Injury Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Sealife Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Sodwana Bay Splits Squeezes Standars Supplemental oxygen Surgeries Surgery Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Tips and trick Transplants Travel tips Travel Tweezers Unconsciousness Underwater photographer Underwater pho Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vape Vaping Vasvagal Syncope Venting Volatile fuels Washout treatments Wastewater Water Weakness Wetsuit fitting White balance Winter Woman in diving Work of Breathing Wound dressings Wreck dive Wreckdiving Youth diver abrasion air-cushioned alert diver altitude anemia antibiotics antiseptics bandages bent-over barbell rows body art breathing air calories burn cardiovascular checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits dry mucous membranes dry suits dry e-cigarettes ear spaces elearning electrolyte imbalance electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalizing exposure injuries eyes fEMAL DIVERS fire rescue flexible tubing frediving gas bubble health hospital humidity immersion pulmonary edema (IPE join DAN knee longevity lower stress marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment mental challenge minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal nematocysts newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain perforation phillippines physical challenges pinched nerves plasters polyester-TPU polyether-TPU post dive preserve prevention rebreather mask rebreathers retinal detachment risk areas safety stops saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections smoking snorkeling. spearfishing stings strength sub-aquatic swimmers ears tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection training trimix unified standards vision impaired warmers water quality