School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

WSU med student saves collapsed shopper three days after life support training

Medical student Melanie McQueen is in her third year at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Medical student Melanie McQueen is in her third year at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Melanie McQueen knew becoming a doctor would mean performing life-saving measures in medical emergencies. She just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

McQueen, a 24-year-old Class of 2014 Wayne State University School of Medicine student, completed Advanced Cardio Life Support training on Sept. 21, a Friday. She was shopping for home goods at Wal-Mart in Taylor the following Monday evening when she noticed a possibly middle-aged woman on the ground, her body hidden by an aisle display. Her face was blue.

McQueen ran to the woman, she thinks about the same time the first paramedics arrived. She asked if they needed any help and identified herself as a medical student. The medic asked her to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, alternating between chest compressions and breaths several times.

“I must have been really prepared. I completed everything I needed to,” she said.

She helped the medics read the EKG to confirm it was a heart attack, squeezed a bag to get medicine into the woman’s bloodstream through an intraosseous line inserted in the bone of the lower leg, and used the pads of an automated external defibrillator three times to stop the arrhythmia, shocking the heart to re-establish a proper rhythm.

“My hands were shaking,” she said. “It was definitely teamwork. I was not alone by any means.”

After more than 10 long minutes without a pulse, McQueen finally felt something. It was faint, but it was there.

“It was very rewarding that she had a pulse at the end. It reminded me of why I want to go into medicine in the first place,” she said. “I do think the training here is really good.”

McQueen, a Taylor resident, is one month into her Internal Medicine clerkship, one of several rotations WSU’s medical students must complete in their third and fourth years.

WSU Associate Professor Diane Levine, M.D., was McQueen’s Internal Medicine attending physician in the rotation’s first week.

“Melanie is an outstanding student whose presence of mind and quick actions saved a woman’s life,” said Dr. Levine, who also serves as vice chair for Education.

While her actions were automatic, thoughtless even, she said she couldn’t get one thought out of her head: This is a real person. This isn’t anything like the mannequin.

The entire incident took less than 15 minutes. The patient was transported to Oakwood Heritage Hospital in Taylor. McQueen has followed up to see if the patient made it, but her status is unknown.

“I wish I knew what happened to her,” she said.
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