Swift thinking and action by two students of the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) saved the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest while exercising four months ago.
Muhammad Aboghanim and Ian Parker, both 28, performed 45 minutes of CPR on the man, who has requested anonymity, when they realised he was in distress as he worked out in Club Fitness at The Villages At Coverley.
Their actions stabilised him until an ambulance arrived to take him for advanced medical care.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Aboghanim recounted what happened on June 24 around 5 p.m., on one of his first visits back to the gym after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
He said he noticed an older man on the treadmill next to him working very hard, and minutes later, he looked over and saw him flat on his back with his arms up.
The medical student noted that at first he thought the man was cooling down, but then he saw his spectacles fall away, he was biting his tongue, had agonal breathing and was starting to turn blue, and his pulse could not be found.
“From my experience, I have seen that face before and you don’t want to see that face. So I knew that he needed help and I flagged Ian. So when Ian came, that’s when we started doing CPR and then he went to grab an Automatic Defibrillator and that’s when we worked on him for the 45 minutes until the ambulance came,” Aboghanim recalled.
Both Aboghanim, who is in his second year at medical school, and Parker, a third-year student who is preparing to start clinical rotations in Miami, believe the teaching and training they were exposed to in medical school, in addition to their critical thinking, contributed to them saving the man’s life.
“For me, I try to separate my outside life from school so I study all day and then I go to the gym to relax, kind of like ‘me time’. And that ‘me time’ turned into an emergency event in which you had to act and think quickly. The first few seconds were for me to tap into it and act . . . because someone’s life is on the line,” Aboghanim said.
The young medical student said the man had returned to thank him for his actions, but as far as he was concerned, he was simply doing what was necessary.
“I was in the gym working out and I just saw the gym staff come upstairs and they had the patient with them and they kept pointing at me showing him that this is who I am. I remember he just came and right away he just gave me a hug and he was just very thankful for what we did. I was just happy to see him [from] the condition he was in when we found him to where he was alive.
“I don’t really want to take a lot of credit. I did what anyone should have done towards another human being and I am just grateful that we were able to come through and we were able to act and save someone’s life,” Aboghanim said.
For Parker, it is simply gratifying to know that he and his colleague were able to act as quickly and precisely as they did. He said if they had waited or hesitated in recognising the patient was having a heart attack, “it would have been a much worse outcome for him”.
“So I am certainly grateful for the training I received at Ross and before Ross that allowed me to respond to the situation. If you have the training, absolutely, run and assist. But what they teach you in CPR training is that everyone could be assigned a role, whether you have CPR training or not.
“If you have training you want to be doing the compressions, but if you are not trained in CPR you can always call 911, you can take orders from someone who knows what they are doing in CPR – like, if they want you to go grab something or help adjust the patient in any way, everyone has a role to play,” Parker explained.
Unlike Aboghanim, he did not have the opportunity to see the man after he came out of hospital. However, Parker said when checking in the day after the life-saving procedure, staff at the gym had assured him the man had made it to the hospital.