Tuesday night, two students took front and center in Claire Fagin Hall to be recognized for saving a man’s life.
At the Division of Public Safety Commendation Ceremony — which included the Penn Police Department Oath of Office Ceremony — Nursing graduate student Kali Rhodes and College junior Grace Ha were honored for their involvement in a Sept. 21 incident in which a man collapsed on Locust Walk and needed to be revived.
Rhodes and Ha, who administered CPR and helped stabilize the man’s breathing, joined a number of people from Penn and the local community in receiving honors at the ceremony.
Ha, who has been a member of Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team since her freshman year, said she felt honored to be recognized at the event.
“I couldn’t really believe it at first,” she said of the invitation. “I couldn’t have done it alone.”
Both she and Rhodes said they were walking to class the morning of Sept. 21 when they noticed a small crowd had gathered around a man lying on the ground outside 1920 Commons.
Rhodes, who is in the Pediatric Acute/Chronic Care Nurse Practitioner program, said her CPR training kicking in almost automatically. “You do remember what you need to remember when the time comes,” she said. “I didn’t have anything but my training.”
Along with Penn patrol officers and the assistance of other civilians, Ha and Rhodes were able to keep the man breathing until a Philadelphia Fire Department medic arrived and transferred him to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
“And then I went about my day,” Rhodes said, explaining that the shock did not fully hit her until the next day. “It was a little surreal.”
Ha said she felt similarly focused during the incident, largely because of her experiences with MERT. “I don’t really remember being freaked out. We’re trained for this, so I knew when I saw him what I needed to do,” she said. “MERT trained me well enough.”
Ha said one of MERT’s goals is to encourage basic CPR training for everyone, not just those concerned with medical situations, so they can deal with these kinds of issues.
“We think CPR should be common knowledge,” she said.
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