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The Heart of BIDMC

Nurse Honored for Off-Duty, Life-Saving Action


“You’re supposed to be where you are for reason. I felt like I was placed there at that moment to help this man,” says Shelley Lynch, RN, who applied her skill, care and kindness to help save a man’s life.

Shelley Lynch, RN, receiving an award from the Massachusetts State PoliceIn April of this year, Shelley, an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and faculty member at Northeastern University’s School of Nursing, was on her way back to Boston from a business trip to Buffalo, NY. As she walked through baggage claim at Logan Airport, she noticed Massachusetts State Police officers hovering over a TSA worker lying on the ground.

Her natural instincts kicked in and Shelley immediately responded to the situation.

“I went over and said, ‘I’m an ICU nurse. Can I help?’” Shelley says. "After checking for a pulse, I began CPR, and shouted for an AED [Automated External Defibrillator]. The troopers confirmed that 911 had been called. When an officer arrived with the AED, we put it on the man and delivered a shock. I continued CPR for the next two minutes and got a pulse back. Shortly after, EMS came and took him to the hospital.”

Later, Shelley learned that the man survived. If it wasn’t for her quick thinking and instinct to jump in and help someone in need without hesitation, the outcome may have been very different.

“I teach basic life support, cardiac life support … this is stuff I am teaching on a weekly basis,” Shelley says. “I just got into my mode, saying to myself, ‘This is what you do.’ The minute I stopped and the EMS took him, at that moment, I was like, ‘Did this just happen?’ It was just surreal. I am trained to do it and teach people to do it. Now, I had to do it in the field for the first time.”

Shelley’s dedication to providing care for patients goes beyond the BIDMC campus. She fervently believes in providing extraordinary care with extraordinary compassion wherever and whenever someone is in need.

Shelley has since been recognized for her honorable act — she received an Outstanding Achievement Award from Massport, and was given a Massachusetts State Police Lifesaving Award and Badge of Lifesaving at the State House in October. Additionally, Shelley received a Governor’s Citation recognition certificate from Gov. Deval Patrick, and an off-duty nurse recognition certificate from Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“I’m humbled. It feels weird to receive all these awards and this publicity. I just did what I have been trained to do for the past 15 years,” Shelley says.

Shelley largely credits her training and time spent at BIDMC for her life-saving actions.

“During the incident there was a level of comfort in being the calm one among other people who weren’t used to treating someone in cardiac arrest,” she says. “That came from the confidence of being in a high acuity ICU [at BIDMC], surrounded by intelligent nursing and physician staff. I feel honored to be a part of this establishment. I love nursing and I love working at BIDMC.”

While this experience has been both humbling and surreal for Shelley, she is using it as an opportunity to enrich her teaching, and encourage her students to step in when an emergency situation presents itself.

“I try to empower nurses to respond,” Shelley says. “You might only know to check a pulse and start CPR, but that might save a life. I want to keep teaching and encouraging nurses to grow. This experience has helped my teaching style. I come to class with a little more passion because I understand that this really happens. It’s not just a class, it could be you.”

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

November 2014

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