CPR Takes Center Stage and Saves a Theatergoer’s Life

CPR Takes Center Stage and Saves a Theatergoer’s Life

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(Photo from left to right) Cardiac surgeon Paul Corso, MD, joined former MedStar Washington Hospital Center nurse practitioner Michelle Michaels, retired physician Edward Cornfeld, and Dylan Mehri to talk about the importance of knowing and using CPR.

A former MedStar Washington Hospital Center nurse saved the day for an elderly man who fell ill in the audience at the Folger Theatre performance in D.C. on June 18. From an upper-level theater seat, Michelle Michaels, NP, who worked on our heart failure unit until about a year ago, saw the man in distress and called 911. After calling, she made her way down to the manEdward Cornfeld, a retired ob-gyn– who was soon transported to the Hospital Center where cardiac surgeon Paul Corso performed a quadruple bypass procedure. While awaiting the ambulance, Michelle and another theatergoer, Dylan Mehri, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and applied an AED (automated external defibrillator) that the theater had on-site. Their actions may have saved Dr. Cornfeld’s life.

Anyone can learn and use CPR and AEDs. Take a moment to learn!

Here are things to know to help a person in distress:

Call 911 immediately. NEVER assume that someone else has called. Although the theater was crowded, Michelle’s call was the first one the emergency operator received.

Start CPR. “If you don’t have a mask, you can just do chest compressions and it works! It worked great and it saves a lot of time. That’s all I did was compressions,” Michelle said, noting that the latest CPR guidelines recommend compressions only. This technique frees would-be rescuers from worry about opening an airway or mouth-to-mouth breathing.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center has AEDs in 24 locations on campus, including wall-mounted devices in these public areas: Main Entrance, Physician Office Building North desk,  Cafeteria (near the ATM), East Building lobby, and the Bus Circle entrance.

Want to Learn CPR?

  • The District of Columbia “Serve DC” volunteer program is offering free, 4-hour CPR-certification courses during July (each course is 4 hours each,  from 5:45 p.m. – 9 p.m., July 19, 21, 26, 28). To register, visit Serve.dc.gov/dc-be-ready or call (202) 727-7925.
  • DC Fire and EMS offers free training in hands-only CPR (using chest compressions without artificial respiration).  Phone number: (202) 673-3320.
  • The American Red Cross also offers classes for a fee. Visit redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr.

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