Keeping a quick and steady beat is imperative when performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Junior nursing student Sampada Arora, 20, has taken first aid/CPR training six times in the last five years working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in her home state of New Jersey.
She took her first CPR class at 15 as an elective at her health and biomedical-focused high school. Instead of electives like autocad, home economics or wood shop, Arora took biomedical engineering, medical abbreviations and CPR.
“New Jersey, just like Cleveland, has so many hospitals, including specialized trauma and stroke centers,” she said. “I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and I found the earliest I could volunteer in the field was as an EMT at 16.”
A self-described adrenaline junkie, Arora says the rushes she gets from her work as an EMT and as a nursing student working in clinical settings are different.
“I like the hands-on nature of being an EMT. I’m thinking of becoming certified as a paramedic nurse,” she said. “It’s two different highs. One’s a caregiving high and it makes my heart happy, and the other is knowing you can help when you’re walking into something crazy.”
Arora was 17 the first time she performed CPR on a patient. She was the second person to administer compressions. The patient was revived successfully.
“The patient’s ribs had already been cracked when I started. I know the first person who does compressions cracks the ribs. It’s a terrifying sound—I froze,” she said. “It’s a textbook reaction. You think it's been 10 minutes since you froze, but it’s probably less than a few seconds of you overreacting.”
All students at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing participating in clinical hours have to be certified in CPR and first aid. This year Arora went through her two-year recertification and felt prepared as usual, but grateful for the reminder.
Currently rotating through the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at MetroHealth Medical Center in her clinical hours, Arora said her experiences as student and as an EMT have influenced her future goals.
“I recently fell in love with ICU nursing. I like that you’re always thinking 10 steps ahead,” she said. “In the ICU you’re getting sent patients and you’re thinking, ‘OK, what’s the worst that could happen and how do I prepare for it?’”
Arora recommends everyone become certified in CPR and first aid, which is offered at the university as a physical education class.
“The average student here has just as much power to save someone’s life if they can figure out how to give those compressions,” she said. “Having that training, having a template in your head to organize that chaos helps. If we all have the power to do something to make someone’s life better, shouldn’t we try our hardest?”