Nurse Goes Into Cardiac Arrest During Cardiac Arrest Training

Colleagues went to work on her instead of the mannequin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2023 12:35 PM CST
Nurse Goes Into Cardiac Arrest During Cardiac Arrest Training
Andy Hoang, a recent nursing graduate, poses at the spot where she was stricken at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Lebanon, NH.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Andy Hoang eagerly began her first nursing job this year in New Hampshire, with a desire to specialize in cardiac care. She was excited about attending a November practice session on how to respond to someone in cardiac arrest. But as things were getting underway at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Hoang, 23, started to feel dizzy and nauseated. She felt she needed to sit down. "That's the last thing I remember," she tells the AP. "I woke up to a room full of doctors and nurses." It turned out that she, herself, had gone into cardiac arrest and needed help immediately. Her colleagues—instead of practicing chest compressions on a mannequin in a simulated environment, went to work on her.

"One checked her carotid, one her femoral (arteries), and she did not have a pulse," instructor Lisa Davenport says. The nurses started CPR and a "code blue," or medical emergency, team was called. "What was really stressful about the situation was that we never had a real code blue in the center," Davenport says. "We train for them all the time." Davenport shouted for help. Luckily, the Lebanon hospital's critical care team was nearby, attending a separate session. More nurses came in, hooked Hoang up to a defibrillator for monitoring, inserted an IV line, and placed her on oxygen. A doctor and nurse from another department rushed in with crash carts.

Hoang was waking up by the time an emergency team arrived. Davenport estimates 15 minutes passed from the time Hoang slumped over to when they got her on a stretcher and sent her to the emergency department. "It worked out, but it was pretty frightening for all of us," she said. Hoang, who grew up in Vietnam and came to the United States in 2016 as a student, says her family has no history of heart problems. While recovering, Hoang wore a patch that recorded the electrical activity of her heart. Doctors hope to learn more from the data. The experience has strengthened her relationship with the other nurses—Hoang now regards them as best friends. "We basically went through this whole life-or-death experience," she says.

(More cardiac arrest stories.)

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