Nursing Student Uses Classroom Experience to Save a Life

Dana Esposito used the Narcan kit she received in her Community Health class to prevent a death resulting from overdose.

Dana Esposito was heading home from a 12-hour shift in the Golisano Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as part of her capstone project when she noticed a few cars pulled over in the median of the highway.

Esposito spotted some people wearing scrubs and assumed it was a medical emergency. She immediately wanted to help — but hesitated. She was still a Brockport nursing student. Graduation was only weeks away, but was she really qualified to assist?

Her desire to help prevailed, and Esposito pulled over. She explained to those assembled that she was a nursing student. Esposito sensed concern over her inexperience but was asked to perform chest compressions on an unconscious patient.

CPR wasn’t working. An off-duty fire lieutenant who had taken charge of the scene suggested searching the person’s car for evidence of a drug overdose. A pipe was found. Esposito spoke up.

“I have Narcan in my car,” she said.

The fire lieutenant seemed surprised and asked her to administer it immediately.

“It’s funny, because when I walked up to the scene and said I was a student, I don’t think they thought much of me,” Esposito said. “When I said I had Narcan, they thought I was the MVP.”

Esposito shot the spray up the man’s nose. His face was purple. His hands were even more purple. And while Esposito believes she appeared calm on the outside, she was shaking on the inside.

Finally, a pulse was detected. Chest compressions stopped, but the group continued to aid the patient’s breathing. Seven minutes after the Narcan was administered, medical personnel arrived and took over.

Esposito, her scrubs muddy and wet from the grass and her white sneakers caked in mud, stood and composed herself — finally noticing the scene around her. Dozens of police officers and medical personnel were on hand. Traffic had slowed on each side of the highway as drivers craned their necks.

The fire lieutenant tapped Esposito on the shoulder and asked her to turn around. The patient’s eyes were open, and he appeared alert as he was loaded into an ambulance.

Esposito remembers the lieutenant saying, “Pretty cool, huh? If you didn’t have Narcan, this would have been a much worse situation.”

She wouldn’t have had the Narcan kit if she hadn’t taken the Community Health class offered by Brockport’s nursing program last semester. Representatives from the Monroe County Health Department visited the class to explain how prevalent overdoses are and how essential Narcan is to saving lives. At the end of the training, each student was issued a kit.

That morning in mid-July has been a life-changing experience for Esposito, who accepted a full-time position in the Golisano Children’s Hospital NICU even before she graduated in early August.

She has received a ton of gratitude and praise from her faculty, family, friends — and even the Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health.

“Fifteen months ago (when she started the BS to BSN program), I wouldn’t have been capable of doing any of this,” said Esposito. “Leaving the scene, I just couldn’t believe that I was actually capable of making that big of a difference in someone’s life.”

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Author: John Follaco

Posted: August 05, 2019