Junior doctor helps save elderly man’s life before first shift

A JUNIOR doctor’s career in medicine got off to the best possible start after she helped saved an elderly man’s life before clocking in for her first ever shift at a Glasgow hospital.

It was a case of being in the right place at the right time for Bonnie Boyle and her patient, who had collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest Lochs Shopping Centre in Easterhouse.

The elderly man had turned blue by the time she got to him.

The doctor and two security guards, named today as Mitch and Brian, took it in turns to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while another man ran to get a defibrillator and called an ambulance.

It was the first time the 21-year-old had performed CPR on a real patient. However, due to their swift actions, the elderly man regained consciousness and was taken to hospital for treatment.

A spokesman for the shopping centre said he is now recovering well.

During cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body, including the brain and lungs. The chances of surviving an arrest – which can happen after a heart attack occurs – are slim and death can happen in minutes without treatment.

Statistics show 9 in 10 people who have cardiac arrest outside hospital die but if CPR is performed in the first few minutes, it can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

READ MORE: Glasgow MSP calls for law reform to boost cardiac arrest survival rates 

Bonnie, 21, had recently moved to Glasgow from Belfast and was driving around to familiarise herself with the city before her 1pm shift last Wednesday at the city’s Royal Infirmary when the drama unfolded.

She had “got a bit lost” and stopped off at the shopping centre to get her bearings.

She said: “In the walkway between all the shops, this gentleman had fallen backwards so I saw it happening. I think he was probably late 70s, early 80s.

“He wasn’t with anyone but there were people around.

“He had gone blue and there were kids around that were quite upset.

“It did take me a couple of seconds before I realised ‘oh yeah, I’m a doctor now.’ so I went over and there were two big guys and another guy there so we called an ambulance and checked where the nearest defibrillator was.

Glasgow Times:

“There were three of us recycling chest compressions. I’ve never actually given CPR in real life, just on the dummies they give us.

“Then he started to come around and we continued with the CPR until the paramedics came and they took him away on a gurney.

“I don’t know how he is but we have always been told that nine out of 10 cardiac arrests even in hospital, you rarely ever get one that can be brought back so he’s been quite lucky.

“I don’t know if it was luck or some sort of divine intervention.”

READ MORE: Man died after ambulance sat nav failed and 999 call was downgraded 

The guidance for administering CPR has been updated to protect first aiders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are advised not to place their face close to the patient and should call call 999 or 112 for emergency help while staring CPR. Social distancing should be maintained if they are being assisted by another helper who should put the phone on speaker.

First aiders are also advised to place a towel or piece of clothing and lay it over the mouth and nose of the casualty and avoid rescue breaths, only performing chest compressions.

The junior doctor was drafted in to help with the Covid effort at an Aberdeen hospital but is now settled in Glasgow.

She said: “It’s hopefully a good omen. When I was going into it was thinking this is going to be a really bad start to the day if it doesn’t go well. It was quite surreal.

“I was feeling so nervous that morning about the first shift and being the only person in charge of people. When something like that happens in the morning the rest of the day can only get better.”

Glasgow Times | News