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WSU student puts CPR training to the test after friend’s sudden cardiac episode

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 10, 2024

Photo supplied, Benjamin Zack/Weber State University

Audrey Young, left, and Allie Green, students in the Department of Respiratory Therapy at Weber State University, pose together Feb. 27, 2024.

OGDEN — Practicing CPR on mannequins is one thing. Having to perform it on your friend and classmate is quite another.

But that’s exactly what happened last November when Weber State University students Allie Green and Audrey Young took a break from a school project to meet for lunch at a local restaurant.

“We started the day working on a project in the lab and we were going to make some little videos to promote respiratory therapy,” said Green. “We decided to take a break and meet for lunch at Zupas in Riverdale and then we were going to meet back at her place to finish the project.”

Green said she got to the restaurant before Young did and was concerned she had arrived there first.

“She left before I did, so I was surprised she wasn’t already there and I just had this weird, unsettled feeling while I was waiting for her,” Green said. “Then I saw her pull up and start to walk inside the building.”

Green said she saw Young open the door halfway, take a step back and collapse onto the ground.

“She just collapsed right in front of me. I was in shock. I ran up to her to see if she was OK and a couple of good Samaritans came up too,” she said. “We flipped her onto her back and I checked for a pulse and couldn’t find one. She hit her head pretty dang hard and there was blood coming out of her nose so I looked down her airway and there was blood starting to pool.”

As Green began clearing Young’s airway, she said an employee called 911. Dani Allen, a customer at the restaurant, began performing CPR while another customer, Megan Oram, kept feeling for a pulse.

“I had always learned about how important feedback was during CPR, so I put that into action and Dani and I switched places and she kept checking for a pulse and I did CPR until the paramedics got there,” Green said. “It really was a team effort. We had all the right people there at the right time.”

Paramedics shocked Young twice with a defibrillator and rushed her to Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital. She survived.

“I honestly don’t remember anything except feeling fuzzy headed while I was walking into Zupas,” Young said. “Then I woke up in the emergency department with all these people surrounding me. My chest hurt pretty bad from the compressions and it was hard to breathe. I was in complete shock when they told me what had happened.”

Young spent two days in the intensive care unit on a ventilator and a total of 14 days recovering in the hospital.

“They told me I had gone into cardiac arrest and had a condition called CPVT, or catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia,” Young said.

CPVT is a genetic heart condition that causes a sudden disturbance in the heart’s rhythm, usually when a person is stressed, exercising or having strong emotions.

Young said she suffers from high anxiety, but she had been traveling the day before the incident and was stressed out over final exams coming up. She even told her husband, Zac, she was feeling very anxious that day for some reason she couldn’t fully explain.

“They told me the condition is genetic, so I got the gene test and it came back negative and the doctors aren’t sure why. It’s just very unusual,” she said. “Looking back, I did have some symptoms. I would get flutters in my heart at times and sometimes I would feel lightheaded.”

To treat the conditions, surgeons at McKay-Dee Hospital implanted a cardioverter-defibrillator, a device that will detect if Young starts to go into cardiac arrest again. If that happens, the device will send an electrical shock to her heart to get it back to its normal rhythm. Doctors also placed a pacemaker inside her chest to help her heart beat at a normal rate.

“I’m also on two different medications,” she said. “It’s been a lot to process. It’s something I’ll have to manage for the rest of my life and my life will be different forever, but I am so grateful for everyone who was there to help. My husband has been incredible. So many people were there helping me that day, and my wonderful friend Allie helped save my life. My professors dropped everything to come and visit me. The support I’ve had has been amazing.”

Green said she considers the whole incident to be a miracle.

“She could have had this happen anywhere at any time, but it happened at a crowded restaurant with so many people who got up and rushed to her aid,” Green said. “Megan even drove me to the hospital. A total stranger just put me in her car and drove me to the hospital. Without Dani there initiating CPR, there could have been a different outcome. It’s really shown me that anything can happen to anybody, so you have to live your life to the fullest and be prepared if anything happens. I’m so grateful I had such wonderful training at Weber State. I knew I’d have to use CPR at some point, but I never thought the first time on a human would be my friend.”

Young said she’s grateful Green and so many others rushed to her side so quickly.

“I am so grateful to be alive today,” she said. “I’m physically pretty fully recovered but I still have some emotional challenges to deal with. If I could stress one thing it would be to tell people to get their training in CPR. It just might save someone’s life like it did mine.”


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