Playing it cool enables a nurse to save a life

Renal nurse Nickie Cool saves golfer’s life with CPR and AED

After battling poor weather and the challenges posed by a broken driver on just the third hole, Nickie Cool was more than ready to call it a day and head back to the clubhouse at Teulon Golf & Country Club. Assured by her husband that the weather would soon improve, Nickie carried on, a decision that would prove vital in later efforts to save a fellow golfer’s life.

As Cool and her husband approached the sixth hole, they saw a commotion with a group of golfers at the thirteenth.

“It was difficult to see from so far away, but once we turned off the music playing on our portable speaker we could hear someone yelling. I turned to my husband and said, ‘Drive there now!’,” said Cool, the nurse transition coordinator for the Manitoba Renal Program.

As their cart pulled up to the thirteenth hole, Cool could see a man laying down on the cart path. He had blue lips, and another man was blowing into his mouth. Cool recognized that her training and experience as a nurse were needed, and she quickly took charge.

“They weren’t performing CPR, so I immediately checked for a pulse and then initiated CPR,” said Cool. “I yelled at his friends to call 911, and told them to call the clubhouse to see if there was an automated external defibrillator (AED) available.”

In Cool’s day-to-day role with the Manitoba Renal Program, she coordinates patient movement, education, and capacity for kidney disease patients across the province. To keep up her clinical skills and because she enjoys bedside nursing, Cool also maintains a casual nursing position at Seven Oaks General Hospital.

“I tried not to panic. In 20 years of nursing I had never had to give compressions to a patient, but fortunately I had just completed a Code Blue refresher training in May.”

Cool’s quick thinking paid off.

There was an AED on site at the Teulon Golf & Country Club, but it had never needed to be used before the incident on July 10. Cool and her husband followed the instructions of the 911 operator, performing CPR while a golf course employee picked up the AED from the club and drove it out to the group.

Anyone can safely use an AED without training, according to guidance posted by the Province of Manitoba, as long as the user can read the AED’s text and follow its voice-prompt instructions.

On that July day, the club employee closely followed the AED’s instructions, lifting the man’s shirt, placing the leads on his chest, and waiting for the machine to deliver an electrical shock to his heart.

“The AED got him back into rhythm and somewhat stabilized until the ambulance arrived,” said Cool. “It was the shock of the AED that definitely saved him as we were having a heck of a time keeping him with just compressions.”

Cool’s golf course “patient”, is a 57-year-old Filipino man (who has asked to remain anonymous). He was participating in a casual golf tournament with his friends from the Filipino Golf Association. This was his third golf tournament of the year, and he expressed surprise that he was affected by cardiac arrest.

“My wife and I lead active lives,” he said. “We’ve gone camping nine times this year so far, and we like to go biking, hiking, and swimming, so I am surprised this happened.”

Once the ambulance arrived, the patient’s journey to recovery began, with a stop at the Stonewall & District Health Center before being transferred to St. Boniface Hospital. Once stabilized, he received a triple cardiac bypass surgery and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) inserted. He is recovering and is grateful to all those involved in his care.

“I told Nickie, ‘You’re one of my guardian angels.’ I am very blessed that she was there, and I am grateful that the golf course had an AED. After this experience, I think any business where you do a lot of physical activity should have one,” he said.

Shawn Coe, Director of Golf at the Teulon Golf & Country Club, agrees. He is grateful the club purchased their AED in 2016, and after this experience, they have purchased a second unit.

“We had our AED in the clubhouse, and after this incident we saw that timing is everything, and felt it would be better if we had an AED on the beverage cart which drives around the golf course all day long,” said Coe.

While Coe hopes they never have to use either AED again, he is comforted knowing they are available. Since the incident in July, many staff at the golf club have expressed an interest in learning CPR, so Coe is researching opportunities to have an annual CPR training day. If you or someone you know is interested in learning the life-saving skill of CPR, courses are offered by a variety of organizations including the Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, and the Manitoba Lifesaving Society. Information about AEDs and where to purchase them can be found on the St. John Ambulance website at www.sja.ca/en/shop/aed-and-supplies.

World Heart Day is September 29

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, “an estimated 35,000 cardiac arrests happen each year in Canada. This means, on average, one person living in Canada suffers a sudden cardiac arrest every 15 minutes. Cardiac arrest can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime, at any age, without warning. Currently, 80% of cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting and nine in ten of these people do not survive. If you perform CPR and use an AED on a person experiencing cardiac arrest, you have doubled their chance for survival.”
Learn more at https://www.heartandstroke.ca/how-you-can-help/learn-cpr/aeds

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