When Adam Kase, M.D. was called for jury duty earlier this month, he expected the experience to fall in line with what most of us would expect of fulfilling our civic duty. But Dr. Kase, a resident physician in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, got more than he bargained for when a fellow juror went into sudden cardiac arrest.
The situation began, Dr. Kase tells us, after around 200 potential jurors gathered in the courthouse's juror assembly room. "I started to hear what sounded like someone snoring, so I turned around but didn't see anything," Dr. Kase says. "A few seconds later, I heard it again so I turned back around and saw two other jurors around a male juror. He looked like he was having difficulty breathing and wasn't really responding to them."
Dr. Kase immediately went to help. "They told me it looked like he'd had a seizure," he says. "When I got there he was not responsive and was gasping for air." Dr. Kase began an assessment, laying the man on the floor and checking his pulse. "He had a really good pulse," Dr. Kase tells us. "But because of his respiratory distress I asked a nearby police officer to go and get a bag-valve mask and AED."
The bag-valve mask arrived first, so after making sure the man's airway wasn't obstructed, Dr. Kase began using the mask to help the man breathe while continually checking his pulse. "His pulse was getting weaker and it eventually just stopped," Dr. Kase says. "I did CPR on him for about five minutes before paramedics arrived with an AED. I then shocked him, and when I did that, his pulse came back."
The man's breathing problems continued, however, so paramedics intubated him and rushed him to a hospital for further management and treatment. The other jurors had all left the room, and when they began filtering back in, courthouse officials brought Dr. Kase forward so he could be acknowledged and applauded for his actions. "That was kind of overwhelming," he tells us. "All I really did was rely on my training."
That training, Dr. Kase tells us, continues inside Mayo Clinic's Multidisciplinary Simulation Center. Emergency Department physician Tyler Vadeboncoeur, M.D., teaches residents how to respond to situations like this inside and outside of the hospital. "I think routinely going through those mental steps and mental preparations really helped me here," Dr. Kase says.
After returning from jury duty, Dr. Kase sent a thank-you note to Dr. Vadeboncoeur for "hammering home the fundamentals of ACLS training," and to others in the Sim Center "for the superior training that we receive here at Mayo Clinic," telling us he feels "fortunate to be a part of a program where we have all of those tools at our disposal. I'm real appreciative of that and I think that's what helped us to have a good outcome in this case."
For those of us who aren't trained physicians, Dr. Kase says there are still things we can do to help in situations like these. "The first thing you should do is call 911 and ask for help," he says. "And if you know how to check a pulse you can check a pulse. If there's no pulse then start CPR. That's really all you can do until help arrives."
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