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Sequim fire department volunteer saves man in Sea-Tac
Sandy Boudrou of Sequim finally got a chance to practice what she teaches.
Boudrou, a volunteer emergency medical technician for Clallam County Fire District 3, saved a man’s life on Nov. 17 at Sea-Tac Airport using CPR tactics she has taught in Utah, Sequim and at Evergreen Hospital for a combination of 27 years.
“It was so exhilarating,” Boudrou said.
“After all these years, it was the first time to do it on my own and not on the job.”
Around 2:30 p.m., while waiting for her luggage after a trip to Phoenix, Ariz., Boudrou stood in the baggage claim area with her sister.
Suddenly, an older man standing next to Boudrou collapsed.
He began gasping for air, which was a sign of agonal respiration — slow, involuntary breaths usually taken close to death.
“People didn’t recognize he wasn’t breathing,” Boudrou said. “One person even shouted that he was breathing.”
She recognized the symptoms and yelled for someone to call 9-1-1 and to get an automated external defibrillator, an AED. Boudrou believes no one would have started CPR if she hadn’t identified the problem.
She checked for a heart rate and to see if he was breathing before hooking up the AED to him. The machine identified that the man had gone into ventricular fibrillation, a condition hard to detect when checking for a pulse. The AED shocked his heart and resuscitated him.
Then Boudrou began 100 manual compressions a minute.
“When I was doing (CPR), people were crying and praying,” Boudrou said.
“It was real exciting. I’m so used to being on duty. It was so classic.”
Boudrou maintained the repetitions for a few minutes before the man revived. When medics arrived five minutes later, he was alert but vomiting, which Boudrou said is characteristic of people going into ventricular fibrillation.
She later discovered the man was 76, had a pacemaker and was diabetic.
Anybody can use an AED
Boudrou remains humble about the experience.
“Anybody could have done that with the right training,” she said.
“That machine and quick CPR saved his life. That’s why there are AEDs everywhere.”
AEDs typically are automated and give oral instructions on what to do.
The average person could go four to six minutes without oxygen before the brain dies, Boudrou said, and 70 percent of adults who fall down unconscious are going into ventricular fibrillation.