North Point grad puts med train­ing to the test

Per­formed CPR on ac­ci­dent vic­tim last month

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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