Calista Pollack, a junior at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, said she never expected to use the CPR training she learned in health class in real life.
But that’s exactly what she did recently when she saved the life of a man having a medical emergency.
Pollack was dropping her brother off at the man’s house so he could get something signed for Boy Scouts. Her brother went to the door, and the man’s wife said she needed help. Pollack’s brother came to get her from the car. She didn’t immediately understand the urgency of what was happening.
“I thought they needed help moving a couch,” Pollack said. “I wasn’t aware of the situation until I walked in.”
When she went into the house, the man had been rolled onto the ground, and he was unresponsive and “a totally different color,” Pollack said.
The man’s wife, who had called 911, handed the phone to Pollack. The dispatcher on the line told her to start doing compressions on the man.
Pollack knew what to do, as she had a CPR and Heimlich unit in the health class she took sophomore year. All Crystal Lake High School District 155 students are required to take health during their sophomore year.
“We had dummies brought in. [We] watched videos about it, practiced on the dummies,” Pollack said. “I knew what to do. I had the information.”
Still, Pollack said, during the situation, she was “kind of nervous.”
“I was nervous about not going fast enough, not doing compressions hard enough on the man,” Pollack said. The dispatcher was able to count with her, and Pollack performed CPR for about three minutes until the paramedics came and set up their equipment.
The man is doing well, from what Pollack last heard. He is out of the hospital and recovering.
“I think it’s cool that I was able just to be there and be able to help,” Pollack said.
Brigid Jacobs, Pollack’s health teacher, said they teach CPR across the district. Jacobs, a teacher in District 155 for 23 years, said this is the first time one of her students has used CPR to save another person’s life.
“It was pretty exciting,” she said. “I always tell the kids, I’ll say, ‘I hope you never have to use this, but if they do I want to be able to give them the confidence to be able to step in.’ That’s why I give so much credit to [Pollack].”
“I’m so proud of her,” Jacobs said, saying that Pollack has always been a good student.
Although students practice CPR a few times in class, Jacobs said it can be scary to actually do it in real life.
She said that this situation brought awareness to how important knowing CPR is.
“Knowing the basics, hopefully they can step in and help out,” Jacobs said.