A paramedicine degree can have a big influence on someone’s life. After all, it can mean they get to pursue their dream career in the ambulance service. But it can also have a profound impact on people around them.
On Christmas Day 2017, this was brought home dramatically to Danielle Macpherson and her family.
“My dad had had a virus for a few days and was a bit under the weather. But it turns out that the virus had actually travelled to his heart. This caused him to collapse in the bathroom.
“The rest of the family was downstairs and we heard him fall and make a sort of muffled scream. We thought he might have gone in there and stubbed his toe or something, as he’d done that before. But when we went in there we were greeted by something very different.”
Acting decisively when every second counts
Danielle had just graduated from a Bachelor of Paramedicine at Charles Sturt University (CSU), and her training kicked in immediately.
“He fell between the toilet and the basin. Initially, he was unconscious but still breathing. So I ran out of the bathroom and phoned for an ambulance. When I returned, I was monitoring his breathing and his pulse, but soon both stopped. That’s when I started CPR.
“I feel like CSU really prepared us for situations like that, as we went through very similar scenarios in our practical teaching. We even had sessions in the simulated bathroom in the practical centre on campus, with someone simulating a collapse. When I was faced with it, with my own dad, I knew it was ‘go time’.
“He was on his side, a position you can’t perform CPR properly in. As my mum went to get a neighbour to help move him, my sister and I were able to roll my dad over and start a form of CPR. Then when my neighbour came we moved him into the middle of the bathroom, where I could perform CPR properly, and where the ambulance crew, when they arrived, had more room to work in.
“It was 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived, and I instructed my neighbour in administering CPR so we took turns to do it. Then when the ambulance crew turned up, it was another 24 minutes before my dad’s heart started again.”
Making the right decisions
Nicole Ball, Danielle’s mother, saw firsthand how Danielle knew exactly what to do in an emergency situation.
“Her composure while performing CPR on her own father was truly unbelievable. She displayed true professionalism, being calm, assertive and systematic in her approach. These qualities while under such pressure are a true testament to the remarkable teaching staff at CSU’s Bathurst campus. The practical experiences provided by these staff members have undeniably prepared Danielle for this circumstance. She knew exactly what to do and quickly. I am forever grateful for her education and the skills CSU has given her to be able to do such an astonishing job in saving my husband.”
Danielle also received praise from the medical staff who treated her dad.
“The ambulance and medical teams all gave me positive feedback. The head of cardiology at the hospital was really happy with what I did and told me that if I hadn’t started CPR when I did, my dad would probably have died.
“We still don’t have a definitive diagnosis of what happened, but he didn’t have to have surgery, and he has made a full recovery.”
On the right path
For Danielle, studying a paramedicine degree was the fulfilment of a dream.
“I always knew I wanted to do something medical in my career. I wasn’t sure I would get the grades to go into paramedicine, but I really worked hard in Year 12 and was so pleased to get a place in the course. I loved it as soon as I got to CSU.
“The course has changed my life. When I started I was 17 and really shy, but now I’m a lot more confident. I was initially really nervous about ‘taking centre stage’ in practicals and things like that, but it felt like everyone was in the same position and understood what was happening, so I felt really supported. I stayed calm throughout the incident with my dad and in the hospital I felt calmer than my family as I understood what was happening and what needed to be done.”
And saving her dad’s life has reaffirmed Danielle’s desire to forge a career in the healthcare sector.
“I currently work in disability, during a gap year so I can spend some time with my family, particularly after what happened. But I’m part way through the admission for NSW Ambulance, so hopefully that’s what I’ll be doing next. I really want to pursue a career in paramedicine and eventually become something like an extended care paramedic to help people in the community.”
You can change lives
Imagine having this profound impact on people’s lives every day when you go to work. If you want to make a difference in this rewarding field, studying paramedicine – or another healthcare subject – at CSU is the perfect step. Contact us to find out more.