REdI to Save Lives - VHA SimLEARN
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REdI to Save Lives

By: Maggie Loughran, CAPM
Consultant, Atlas Research
VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center

Nashville, Tenn. – “I just did what anyone would do in that situation.” This quote by Elizabeth Priestley, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the Alvin C. York campus of Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, amplifies this notion that many nurses face in dire circumstances. Backed by 18 years of training and experience, Priestley was well versed in the procedures for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) but did not apply them in her duties every day. In fact, the CPR training simulations that were required every three months often felt redundant – that was until they were required to be put into practice during an emergency.

While Priestley was off duty one weekend, her son alerted her of their neighbor who had collapsed in his front yard. As she rushed to the crowd that had formed, Priestley immediately went into nurse-mode and checked for signs of life – only to find him cold and unresponsive. She remembers, “I needed to save his life. Because of the training, I didn’t even have to think about what to do. I just jumped right in.” After several minutes of compressions, the ambulance finally arrived on the scene and the emergency responders took control with additional medical procedures. Because of Priestley’s swift and continued action, her neighbor was able to return home to his family.

Priestley touts the cadence of the training requirements for the successful application of CPR. She cited the computer programming voice counting down in her head to ensure she compressed deep enough, even quoting the 30:2 ratio, head tilt, and watching for the lungs to fill. This scenario has had a profound impact on Priestley and her family, even inspiring her 12 and 14-year-olds to learn CPR for themselves. Priestley stated that she now has a different outlook on mandatory training and that even though every three months had seemed like overkill if it was every two years she would not have remembered the precise movements that ultimately saved her neighbor’s life that fateful day.