Rush Resident Helps Save a Life at O’Hare

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Outside of her work as a third-year internal medicine resident at Rush University Medical Center, Erica Park, MD, loves to have “fun, random adventures.” Park recently had a particularly exciting adventure when she helped save a man’s life at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

On her way to interview for a gastroenterology fellowship, Park was searching for a place to charge her cellphone when she heard someone desperately call out for a doctor.

A man who had been experiencing chest pain earlier had become unresponsive while waiting with a friend at a gate for a flight. Park and two off-duty emergency medical technicians who were also waiting for flights went to work.

“I could not feel a carotid pulse, so we started compressions, and I asked for a defibrillator,” Park recalls. “We ended up doing three rounds of compressions and two shocks. Just as EMS arrived and began to do compressions, the gentleman regained consciousness, so they took him to the nearest hospital.”

Fresh from recently finishing her rotation in the cardiac ICU, Park said her training instantly kicked in.

“While we were resuscitating him, I just kept going through our BLS (Basic Life Support Training) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Training) steps we had learned while in residency,” she says. “It’s definitely different from a code in the hospital, since you don’t have all the supplies and medicine. I just kept telling myself to keep going with compressions and shocks, since that’s all we really had at the time.”

Helping people in need is nothing new for Park, who hails from Indiana. Inspired at a young age by her father, also a physician, she knew her calling would be in health care.

After the incident, Park went on her way, hoping for the best. Any hint of nervousness about her fellowship interview the next morning in California vanished with a phone call.

“I was really happy and relieved when I got the call the saying that he was doing OK in the hospital,” she says. “I was actually in my Lyft on the way to my interview when I received the call, so it was a good way start to my morning.”​

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