They were unrelated incidents with a serendipitous overlap: Emergency resuscitation that saved lives, administered by college students trained in CPR at William Paterson University.
In the most recent situation, Bailey Wyrostek was walking her dog Jan. 19 in her Wood-Ridge neighborhood when she witnessed a nasty two-car collision.
“I ran down and saw the person was unconscious,” Wyrostek recalled. “I ripped him out of the car, did chest compressions and CPR, and a neighbor called 911. … He was taken to the hospital and survived.”
A sophomore at William Paterson, Wyrostek learned CPR in a sports emergency care course in the fall of 2017. She is majoring in athletic training and on track to graduate from the university in 2020.
“[CPR] is valuable for everyone, because situations like this could happen anywhere,” Wyrostek said. “Looking back, I am thankful I was in the right place at the right time. The person who I saved lives on my block.”
In the other instance of medical good fortune, William Paterson student Yezli Nunez was visiting a relative who was a patient at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson in December when she encountered an unconscious man sprawled on the floor.
“I followed my procedure for CPR — he didn’t have a pulse,” Nunez recounted. “I asked someone to get an [automated external defibrillator] and call 911. A nurse saw me and helped me [and] I did not stop until the ambulance arrived. I was tired, but I kept going. The patient started breathing when he heard the ambulance. He was in cardiac arrest because of alcohol intoxication.”
Some bystanders had been filming the man but not offering aid, she recalled.
“My training was fresh in my mind, so I was able to identify the emergency and act right away,” Nunez said.
The Paterson native — another Class of ’20 undergrad and a classmate of Wyrostek — also recommends others learn CPR.
“You never know when you will need it,” she said. “Take a CPR course to help a relative or stranger.”
Robb Rehberg, a professor at William Paterson and coordinator of clinical education in its athletic-training program, taught both Wyrostek and Nunez. He reiterated how important a skill CPR is to learn.
“I have taught CPR for 28 years,” Rehberg said. “You never know when someone is going to have cardiac arrest. Many states require high school students to know it to graduate. You can use it to make a difference to save someone’s life. I have had many students return to me who used CPR over the years.”
He said he’s proud of the heroic efforts by Wyrostek and Nunez.
“They are two fine examples of students who learned and were able to make a difference,” Rehberg said.
Rehberg is co-founder and president of Sport Safety International, which is dedicated to promoting safe participation in sport and physical activities through education.
William Paterson partners with the nonprofit National Safety Council in its CPR training.
“We frequently hear of success stories,” said Nick Smith, the council’s chief operating officer. “Anyone who takes a first-aid course can be a hero.”