On a warm April afternoon at Northeastern University’s Parson’s Field, Danielle Pesko and Samantha Cook rushed to the side of Jake Negrotti, an employee in the facilities department who had collapsed and lay motionless at the edge of the field.
Pesko and Cook, who had just begun practice with their Ultimate Frisbee club team, now had a much bigger challenge: administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and saving a man’s life.
“It was kind of surreal, but, I had trained for that situation so many times, that I was pretty confident I could do it,” said Pesko, a sophomore chemical engineering major who learned CPR as a lifeguard at a water park in New Hampshire.
“Thank God there were two of us, because it’s a lot for one person to handle,” noted Cook, a health sciences major who learned the life-saving technique in a course offered through the Bouvé College of Health Sciences; a requirement for all health sciences majors before going on co-op.
“You physically can do it by yourself,” she said, “but it is way easier for two people.”
Negrotti experienced erratic gasping and then vomiting, so Pesko and Cook quickly turned him on his side, cleared his airway and continued performing the procedure.
EMTs arrived quickly, immediately applying an oxygen mask and connecting an automatic external defibrillator to Negrotti’s chest to treat his irregular heartbeat and reestablish an effective rhythm.
Pesko and Cook, who admitted to being in a state of near-shock over the event, replayed the incident and questioned all of their decisions, which turned out to be expertly executed.
They recently met with President Joseph Aoun, who thanked them for their courage and leadership in a life-or-death situation.
Negrotti’s wife expressed her gratitude to the students in an e-mail noting that their knowledge of CPR had saved her husband’s life.
“After finding out this man had a wife and family, it made what we did feel so much more important,” said Pesko, who, along with Cook, looks forward to meeting Negrotti and his family.
Northeastern’s Public Safety Division offers CPR certification and re-certification courses to all faculty, staff, students and alumni.