Senior nursing major Natalie Davies ’23 was waiting for her flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to New Orleans to start spring break when she heard someone scream. She saw a man lying on the ground, and her instincts took over. “With my clinical experience, plus my work in the emergency room at Yale New Haven Hospital, I just reacted,” Davies said.
Another passenger, whom she later learned was a cardiologist, also responded. They found no pulse, and Davies began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compressions. A bystander brought them an automated external defibrillator (AED), and the doctor administered the shock. Still finding no pulse, Davies continued CPR.
After three rounds of CPR compressions and AED administration, the patient’s pulse returned. When emergency medical services (EMS) arrived, the man was awake and talking. “We were lucky the AED was so accessible,” Davies said.
“It was the first time I felt like a real nurse,” Davies continued. “I didn’t think: I just knew what to do and concentrated on the patient. I wasn’t even aware people were watching until after EMS arrived.”
Heather Ferrillo, undergraduate nursing program chair in the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing(DHCON), applauded Davies. “Natalie exemplifies what it means to be a SHU nursing student. She put into practice what she has learned over the last four years and didn’t hesitate to share her knowledge and skills in an unexpected situation,” Ferrillo said.
Davies’ actions impressed Karen Daley, DHCON dean. “We are proud of her and commend her for taking this life-saving action. She translated our mission of caring and compassion into action, which is at the heart of what we do in nursing,” Daley said.
Compassion is what attracted Davies to nursing. As the daughter of a physician, she grew up spending time in medical offices. “I worked as a medical assistant in his office, and I loved patient contact,” she said. “I like the personal interaction that nurses have with their patients. You see the change in people’s lives.”
Davies fell in love with Sacred Heart University’s nursing simulation lab when visiting schools. “I was with my parents, and they encouraged me to come here when we saw the labs.”
The night before leaving for spring break, Davies submitted a paper for her public health nursing course about the importance of training the public in CPR. “Twelve hours later, I was administering CPR in a public setting. In this case, there were a couple of us right there who knew what to do. It’s important for everyone to learn how to administer CPR when needed,” she said.
Davies has accepted a job as a critical care registered nurse at Yale New Haven’s Emergency Department, which she will start after graduation.
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