North Point grad puts med training to the test
Performed CPR on accident victim last month
Alexis Marshall learned first aid and CPR as part of her studies at North Point High School, but the 2017 graduate from Waldorf never imagined she’d use those skills to possibly save someone’s life.
“Not at all,” Marshall said. “I never expected someone in my position to have to do that.”
Marshall was returning home from National Harbor with her mother the evening of May 21, an early celebration for her 18th birthday. As they were driving toward the interstate, Marshall spotted an accident: a gray car had completely flipped over shortly before they came upon the scene.
“I told her, ‘I’m getting out,’” Marshall recalled. “[Mom] said, ‘You can’t get out, there’s nowhere to park,’ and I told her, ‘I’ve got to get out.’”
Marshall was certified in CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, during her studies in North Point’s Academy of Health Professions,
part of the Science Technology and Industry program. Marshall said she’s always had an interest in the medical profession and the human brain, and the program seemed like a natural fit. She applied in eighth grade.
Marshall’s mother, Jeanell Thomas, said she found a safe place to let her daughter out of the car, and Marshall ran to the scene of the accident while Thomas stopped nearby.
“I looked over and saw her doing something on her knees, and I thought, ‘OK, she’s doing whatever she needs to be doing,’” Thomas said.
Marshall said the sole occupant of the car, a middle-aged man, was pulled from the car by police through a broken window, but no one moved to render first aid.
Marshall said an officer told her to get back, but when she told him she was CPR certified, he let her through.
A nurse, who also witnessed the accident, was also allowed through.
“[The nurse] checked his pulse, she looked at me, she said, ‘There is no pulse,’ and the next thing you know I’m doing CPR,” Marshall recalled.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, when the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes, and a person may die within eight to 10 minutes. CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other organs until medical assistance arrives.
According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR performed on a cardiac arrest victim can double or even triple their chances of survival.
Marshall said she was completely unaware of the passage of time while performing CPR.
“I had never done CPR on an actual person before — just the manikin. But I told myself, ‘It’s just like the classroom. Go for it,’” Marshall said. “I told myself, this is someone’s son, father, husband. I’ve just got to do this. There’s no time for emotions.”
Marshall said an EMT who just happened to be passing by arrived a little later and switched off with her when she got tired.
“When the ambulance came, he had a pulse,” Marshall said.
Marshall credited her CPR instructors at North Point, Jill Bodamer and Rita Koenig.
“I think they’re doing great work with that program,” Thomas added.
Bodamer said in an email that it was wonderful to learn how Marshall put what she learned in the classroom to good use.
“When we are teaching and mentoring the students, we explain to them that they can have a huge impact on someone’s life in multiple ways,” Bodamer said. “Alexis always took full advantage of the program and the opportunities that it provided. Thankfully, she made a decision that day to put her training into action.”
Marshall said the emotions hit her while she was walking back to her mother’s car and the initial push of adrenaline wore off.
“It didn’t feel real,” Marshall said. “That’s when I wanted to cry.”
Thomas said she consoled her daughter as they walked back to the car, which was parked at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.
“I was very proud of her,” Thomas said. “I give her kudos, being 17 and being able to act in a situation like that. A lot of adults wouldn’t know what to do in a situation like that.”
Marshall said she has not heard anything about the man’s condition or if he survived treatment, but she said she hopes he is OK.
“It kind of drives me insane, not knowing what happened after,” Marshall said.
Marshall plans to attend New York University in the fall, and wants to continue her interest in medicine by pursuing a career in neuroscience.
Marshall said she plans to keep her CPR certification current, and urged others to learn this lifesaving technique.
“It’s a simple skill, it’s repetitive, and it saves lives. It’s a skill that almost everyone should know,” Marshall said. “Especially for parents, because with your child, you never know what could happen.”
Alexis Marshall, a 2017 graduate of North Point High School, came to the aid of an injured driver after witnessing an accident May 21 near National Harbor. She was able to successfully administer CPR until further help arrived.