Conant senior lauded for helping save life

 
 
Updated 12/8/2018 4:14 PM
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  • Conant High School senior Kaitlyn O'Brien used the CPR skills she learned in a medical terminology class to help save the life of a woman who suffered a cardiac arrest at Rosario's Pizza in Roselle where O'Brien works. O'Brien administered CPR until paramedics arrived.

    Conant High School senior Kaitlyn O'Brien used the CPR skills she learned in a medical terminology class to help save the life of a woman who suffered a cardiac arrest at Rosario's Pizza in Roselle where O'Brien works. O'Brien administered CPR until paramedics arrived. Courtesy of District 211

  • Conant High School senior Kaitlyn O'Brien, with parents Catherine and Robert O'Brien, was recognized by the Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 school board with a lifesaver award. O'Brien used the CPR skills she learned at school to help save the life of a woman who suffered a cardiac arrest.

    Conant High School senior Kaitlyn O'Brien, with parents Catherine and Robert O'Brien, was recognized by the Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 school board with a lifesaver award. O'Brien used the CPR skills she learned at school to help save the life of a woman who suffered a cardiac arrest. Courtesy of District 211

Learning to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a dummy in a classroom is one thing.

Administering it in real life is quite another experience, says Conant High School senior Kaitlyn O'Brien, who used the CPR skills she learned as part of a medical terminology class to help save the life of a woman suffering a cardiac arrest.

"When we are certified to do health care provider CPR, we are trained to do it as a real-life scenario," said O'Brien, 17, of Roselle. "It was a lot different in real life. It was a lot more intense. I had a lot more pressure on me."

On Sept. 28, O'Brien was working at Rosario's Pizza in Roselle taking phone-in carryout orders when a waitress called out to the restaurant owner that a female customer had passed out.

"Initially I didn't think anything of it. I just kept bagging food," O'Brien said.

The owner called 911 while the collapsed woman's daughter, a nurse, performed CPR.

O'Brien asked if she could help and began administering chest compressions while the daughter performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics arrived eight minutes later.

"It was nerve-wracking, but while I was doing the compression, there was a lot of adrenaline. I wanted to make sure I was doing it at the correct pace," O'Brien said.

Though the woman was unresponsive at the time paramedics transported her, she later was revived. O'Brien later learned through a text from her boss that the woman had pulled through.

"She actually came into Rosario's one day ... she wanted to meet me and say thank you for helping her," O'Brien said. "It felt really good. I didn't know what to say to her. It was surreal."

Conant High School science teacher John Shoro said while two-person CPR is not taught in traditional certification courses, it is taught in the school's medical terminology class.

O'Brien was certified in May. It was the first time she put her the training into practice. The experience strengthened her resolve to become a nurse, she said.

"After that happened ... I know now that I really do want to go into the health care profession. I really want to be able to help people in that way," said O'Brien, who is enrolled in the district's certified nursing assistant program.

O'Brien was recognized by the Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211 school board with a lifesaver award.

"We're so proud of her," said Mark Langer, Conant assistant principal. "She kind of embodies everything we hope for students ... being responsible ... using what she learned in the classroom in real life."

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