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Maine health care worker saves life on lunch break, asks others to learn CPR

Maureen Rockwell wants more Mainers to learn hands-only CPR, which can be learned without certification.

GORHAM, Maine — Whether you believe in a higher power, destiny, or luck, Maureen Rockwell was in the right place at the right time last month.

Rockwell works at Northern Light Mercy Walk-In Care in Gorham, and was on her way back to work after making a last-minute decision to stop for lunch, just before noon on January 26. 

She said she witnessed a driver run a stop sign and get T-boned by the car driving in front of her. 

Rockwell ran to the scene and found one of the drivers unconscious and without a pulse. She recalled calling 911 and directing another motorist, who asked how they could help, to help remove the man from his car.

Then, her work training kicked in and she used hands-only CPR to keep his blood pumping until medics could bring him to a hospital. She’s credited with saving his life, but said anyone could have done what she did with basic training that’s widely available.

"Do it—go—take the class because you might save someone’s life," she said. "You might know them, you might not. But, you know, I kept thinking, 'that’s a father; that’s a grandfather; that’s a husband; that’s somebody’s loved one.'"

There are numerous online and in-person certifications available, and many could be covered by insurance or an employer. But, Lena Minervino, from the American Heart Association, said while she wants to see as many Mainers certified as possible, free, simple, hands-only training is available and accessible.

The AHA website has a free one-minute video on hands-only CPR. 

Why hands-only? Minervino explained medical professionals are more likely to be able to sufficiently provide oxygen to a patient through intubation. 

Compressions, she said, are the most important part, and must be given early and often.

"When you do hands-only CPR, you're actually keeping oxygenated blood going to the organs and to the brain, which is important," she explained. "Every minute that goes by that someone doesn't receive CPR, it decreases their [chance] of survival by 10 percent."

Rockwell has more than one reason to be proud from that January day. She said her son works as a medic in Buxton, and he arrived at the scene soon after she was relieved of her CPR duties. 

Saving a life was a family affair that day.

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