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Nursing Student Saves a Life at JFK Airport While on Spring Break


Natalie Davies, a senior at Sacred Heart University, was at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City waiting to catch a flight to New Orleans for spring break when she heard a man screaming. She quickly jumped into action when she saw him lying on the ground.

“With my clinical experience, plus my work in the emergency room at Yale New Haven Hospital, I just reacted,” Davies said.

Another traveler, who Davies later found out was a cardiologist, stopped to help as well, but they couldn’t find a pulse, so the nursing student started doing CPR compressions. A staff member brought them an automated external defibrillator (AED) that they used to shock his heart, but there was still no response.

The providers did three rounds of compressions and AED administration when the man’s pulse finally came back. By the time the EMS arrived, he was awake and talking.

“We were lucky the AED was so accessible,” Davies added. “It was the first time I felt like a real nurse. 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.”

Her quick thinking caught the attention of Karen Daley, dean of the school’s department of nursing.

“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.

“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,” added Heather Ferrillo, undergraduate nursing program chair.

Davies is the daughter of a physician and spent a lot of time in doctor’s offices growing up. Those experiences made her want to pursue a career in medicine.

“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.”

Her chance encounter with the man at JFK felt serendipitous, considering Davies had just written a paper for one of her courses on the importance of teaching the public how to perform 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 is set to graduate this spring. She recently accepted a job as a critical care registered nurse at Yale New Haven’s Emergency Department.

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