Kohawks save man’s life while on May Term in New Zealand

2018-06-27 16:00:00 - Feature

Coe student in New Zealand pose with a police officer after saving a man's life.May Term in New Zealand truly was life changing for five Kohawks and one man. Courtney Humpal, Eden Brazeau, Ali Arns, Aryn Meisinger and Jessy Holen were honored by Wellington, New Zealand, police for saving a man’s life while exploring the city. Thanks to the CPR they performed, the man is expected to make a full recovery.

It was by chance that these five students crossed paths with this man. Students taking the course, An Exploration of Physical Activity and Recreation in New Zealand, had spent the morning of May 24 visiting the country's parliament before having the afternoon free. Humpal, Brazeau, Arns, Meisinger and Holen strolled through the city, popping in and out of stores, including the Platypus Shoe Store.

"We were just about to leave when we saw this man in the store was not well. He was sitting on a couch in the store, and two employees were in front of him when he became very stiff and collapsed," Humpal said.

"Knowing we had a nursing major, lifeguard and bio major in our group, Ali yelled, 'We know CPR!'" Holen recalled.

When Humpal saw the man turning blue, she checked for a pulse and found he wasn't breathing. She began compressions with support from Meisinger and Brazeau until a store employee returned with an automated external defibrillator. She and Meisinger began applying the electrode patches just as four paramedics arrived at the scene.

"The whole thing was definitely an adrenaline-pumping experience," said Humpal, a biology, neuroscience and molecular biology major. "I am CPR certified but have never been in an emergency situation before where there were not more qualified, experienced people to help.

"I learned how to do CPR at St. Luke's Hospital," she said. "Coe is conveniently located close to two wonderful hospitals, and during my four years here I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in these places either shadowing doctors, working or volunteering. I believe the experiences I have had in these clinical settings prepared me for this type of situation — for which I am truly grateful."

The five left the scene not knowing if the man would survive, but the next day they were leaving the hostel for a museum when the group was stopped by a pair of officers and told the good news. In recognition of their efforts, the officers presented the women with certificates and small gifts, then posed for photos for the police department's Facebook page.

"(Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nursing & Rhetoric) Mary Taylor and I are both extremely proud of the students," May Term co-instructor and Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Elaine Rydze said. "Their actions saved a life!"

"To be quite honest, we were meant to be there to help this man at that very moment in time. I have no doubt in my mind about that," Holen said. "Regardless of our knowledge or training or expertise, Coe has taught us to be good people most of all. With that in mind, we could not leave another human when he needed us most."

In addition to training at Coe's nearby hospitals, Coe students learn CPR in the course Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries. Many students also learn CPR from Coe's athletic trainer Shaun McCarthy.

The May Term in New Zealand offered Kohawks a unique educational travel program that included hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, luging, exploring the Maori culture and participating in conservation work at two sanctuaries.

"This trip was definitely an adventure of a lifetime, and I would do it all again in a second," Humpal said.

"Going on this May Term is hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made at Coe," Holen said. "Through our adventures of hiking and mountain biking and white water rafting; in between our exploration and immersion and discoveries; amid the late-night talks and laughter and bonding moments, this May Term has left such an imprint on my heart. Even more than that, the people have left such an imprint on my heart."

Learn more about all of Coe's May Term opportunities at http://www.coe.edu/offcampus_mayterm.