‘Medical emergency in Car 3’
Being in the right place at the right time is a great feeling. Being in the right place at the right time, with the right skills, mindset and courage to step up can save a life.
Kirk Hurme was traveling recently on business from Long Island to Schenectady, NY when a series of circumstances kept him on a train he got off, then re-boarded, when he was in Albany, just one stop from his final destination. Just a few minutes after the Albany stop, in between stations, the train came to a screeching halt.
Like most passengers, he imagined, Kirk felt frustrated … already stressed that he was running late for a meeting and had chosen the train over an Uber ride for the last leg of the trip. Unlike most passengers, though, Kirk sprang into action when he heard a startling announcement from the conductor – ‘We have a medical emergency in Car 3. Can anyone with medical training please come help?’
Kirk is a Safety Training Manager and Acting Generation Training Manager, who’s been with the company for 10 years, and provided CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) training until about two years ago. Formerly in the Navy, Kirk has been CPR-certified for two decades.
While other bystanders looked panicked and stepped aside, Kirk and a physician’s assistant (PA) raced to Car 3.
“The first thing I felt was shock to see that the passenger needing CPR was not an older person or even an adult. He was a six-month-or-so-old infant, who was turning blue while his parents were helplessly holding him.” The infant also had a scar from recent open-heart surgery. In fact, he and his parents were just returning home after a three-month stay in a New York City hospital.
Positioned at the baby’s head, with the PA at his feet, in the tight center aisle of the train, Kirk and the PA administered CPR with ‘rescue breaths’ and administered oxygen. They then attached AED pads, which showed that the baby’s heart rate was stable and didn’t need to be shocked. By the time paramedics arrived, the baby was breathing and carried off in his car seat, parents in toe, to the waiting ambulance.
A long-time trainer and emergency responder, Kirk nevertheless had never actually been called on to deliver CPR in an emergency situation. And while he hadn’t taught CPR in years, in another seeming coincidence, he had led a session the very week before at an HR conference. And he literally took the same advice – and applied the same instructions – he gave the class that day.
“I was telling people at the conference that you never know when you might need to use CPR. And I was stressing one of the points I always do, which is – You don’t have to be a medical expert, skilled practitioner or even ‘perfect’ responder, to make a difference. You just need to sustain the person’s heart and breathing until the paramedics get there. You just need to have the courage to come forward and apply what you do know and you can save a life.”
Kirk’s skills may have been a little rusty. “But if you have enough repetition when you’re learning or teaching something, you just follow a sequence of events. We went right into doing what the protocols dictated. I felt like I wasn’t figuring out what to do – I was just doing what I was trained to do.”
On his weekly Jx leadership call, NY Jurisdiction President Ken Daly publicly acknowledged and thanked Kirk for his courage in responding. And OurAcademy Director Margaret Jones called Kirk ‘our Academy hero,’ saying, “Had it not been for Kirk’s quick actions, those parents would have lost their child.”
She also echoed Kirk’s teachings when she said, “Only 5% of the population is CPR trained. If you are in a movie theater with 40 people, you are likely the only one that knows CPR.”