Respiratory Therapist Saves Life at CPR Event

 Updated: June 24, 2016

Cindy Keely CPR Event
Cindy Keely, RRT

Cindy Keely, RRT, was in her office at the American Heart Association (AHA) in Charleston, WV, on Monday of last week when suddenly the administrative assistant came in and told her she was needed in the conference room, stat. A woman who was there for the emergency cardiovascular care volunteer meeting had just collapsed and was in need of immediate medical assistance.

Keely, who serves as the Mission Lifeline director for the AHA in West Virginia, rushed to the scene and quickly determined the woman was not breathing and had no pulse. Her only thought: “I can’t let this woman die.” While the vice-chair of the ECC regional volunteer committee attached the automated external defibrillator (AED) leads to the woman’s chest, Keely began hands only CPR, pausing only when the AED indicated the need for a shock.

Emergency responders arrived after about 3-5 minutes, at which time the woman also regained consciousness and began breathing and coughing. “The AED was paramount in this woman’s survival and quick return to ROSC — return of spontaneous circulation,” emphasizes Keely. “The AED analyzed the need for shock on the first assessment, which was delivered and followed by immediate chest compressions.”

Repeat Performance

Turns out, this wasn’t the first time Keely has been in a lifesaving situation. Back in February of 2003, she was on weekend duty with the West Virginia National Guard when a fellow soldier collapsed with a sudden cardiac arrest. Again she was called to the scene and quickly assessed that the soldier would need CPR.

Keely began compressions right away and told someone else in the room to call 911. Then she asked if anyone had gone through CPR training and another soldier said he had. Together they continued CPR for about 15 minutes until EMS arrived with an AED and provided a shock on the first assessment. CPR continued for a few more minutes until the soldier was revived.

“That gentleman is alive and well today due to quick action, high-quality CPR, and an AED,” says Keely.

Good Press After CPR Event

What about the woman at the AHA meeting? She’s doing well too. “I had the opportunity to meet with her on Wednesday morning at the hospital,” Keely said late last week. “She is in good spirits and has family with her. She realizes how lucky she is and is very thankful for the care she received from those who gave her immediate care as well as those that were caring for her now in the hospital.”

Keely has gotten some good press for her story in the AHA newsletter and hopes it will help illustrate the importance of learning CPR to others.

“The takeaway is that anyone can save a life and that anyone can do CPR. A person should learn even the basics of Hands-Only CPR — call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives,” says the AARC member. “The chance of survival of a sudden cardiac arrest victim decreases 10% each minute that CPR is not started. So, in five minutes, the person has a 50/50 chance. My hope is that everyone will learn CPR, but never have to use it.”