Susan Paul is a remarkable resident of Jersey City. She loves the city that she calls home and the people in it, so much so that she signed up to train and volunteer as a community-based emergency caregiver (CBEC) in order to help her neighbors, friends, and family who live near her.
As a CBEC, Susan is alerted to all emergency calls that take place in her vicinity and is trained to provide first aid response to anyone who needs it. Susan is part of a program, together with another 100 volunteers known as United Rescue, a community-based first response program that works with the Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) Barnabas Health. The most recent training course for CBEC’s began in September and concluded in December. Susan herself graduated this class and recently participated in performing a successful CPR on an unconscious patient.
The training course took 85 hours to complete in addition to outside studying and an additional 30 hours of hands on training while riding on an ambulance. The training level has been mandated by JCMC and the city to qualify the volunteer CBECs to act as first responders during medical emergencies.
“Susan received an alert via the app on her phone notifying her to the emergency which took place in the Goldman Sachs building at 30 Hudson Street. The building is one of the largest office buildings in Jersey City and is located only two blocks away from Susan’s home,” said Paul Sosman, the director of the local branch of United Rescue.
The incident, a cardiac arrest, had occurred on one of the upper floors of the building on a loading dock. The Jersey City Medical Center team responded by sending out BLS as well as ALS teams. A bystander had already begun CPR and connected an AED in the few moments it took Susan to arrive.
“When the EMS teams arrived they discovered that the gentleman had been working out during his lunch break when he went into cardiac arrest. Susan assisted the team in performing CPR on the patient for more than 30 minutes. The patient finally regained a pulse and was transported by the JCMC medical team to the hospital,” Paul added.
When asked about her first successful CPR Susan responded, “It gave me a great feeling to know that I was capable of helping someone. I had the training and the tools necessary to help and I was successful in doing so. After taking this course, I am a lot more capable, competent, and able to give back to my community. I used to work at the Goldman Sachs building, and just a year ago I would not have been able to help at all. Now, even though I wasn’t there at the time of the incident, I was one of the first responders on the scene, empowered and able to help save this person’s life. That is a great feeling.”
Susan said that this incident was the second cardiac arrest that she had responded to. The first one occurred a few weeks prior and unfortunately, the gentleman in that instance didn’t survive. During the incident at Goldman Sachs, the patient did survive, and in many ways, it was due to the early intervention that he received.
“The ability that you have to help the patient, someone who is near to you, a neighbor or coworker, is something that really affects a person,” mused Susan. “The first incident had a negative outcome and that affected me emotionally and lowered my confidence. When the second incident occurred, I rallied, responded, and acted just as I was trained to do. The result was a positive outcome and that restored a lot of confidence that I had been lacking. Saving a life is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can ever go through,” she added.
Susan also mentioned how much the team mentality of the volunteers adds to their confidence and support that they have when responding to calls. “When you go out as part of United Rescue, you go out as part of a well-trained team of responders. Both the people in this organization, as well as the EMS responders in the city, are behind you.”
Sosman said that success stories in which volunteers save lives are exactly why the organization exists. “This is why we do what we do. Susan has been very active since graduation and was close by to the scene. She arrived in just a few minutes and together with the rest of the responders was able to achieve a positive outcome and regain the person’s pulse. Being near the scene and being trained as well as possessing the proper equipment to be able to save lives is exactly why we do what we do.”
United Rescue now boasts close to 100 volunteers spread across the city. Each volunteer responds to between 5-10 calls on average per month. “That is a lot of lifesaving for a group of volunteers, and our goal is to increase that and save even more lives,” Sosman concluded.