April Dougherty

Anaya Warren


You hear people talk about CPR and how if it needed to be done, they would have the ability to do so but have you ever actually been in a position where you absolutely have to perform it on the spot? Well for East’s school nurse, April Dougherty, that was her reality.

“I always loved going to school and nursing was always one of those jobs I could continue life long learning and my initial intention was I wanted to help people,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty was about 4 weeks out of graduating from nursing school when one of the biggest milestones in her career happened. She was a night shift nurse and the patient coded on her shift.

“I had a freakout moment at first, and you go through the process of what the procedure is because all procedures are different in different facilities,” Dougherty said. ”But you can’t freak out too much you just have to go straight into action and follow procedure.”

That specific patient had an underlying heart condition.

“They were in for a separate surgical procedure and had a reaction where the surgical procedure actually exasperated the problem that was in their heart,” Dougherty said. ”She had a heart attack and passed away.”

On night shift, there is no administration in the building. Dougherty was the floor manager for that unit.

“There was only one nurse per unit, so immediately I start the code, start initiating CPR and then they call for backup so that you have assistance,” Dougherty said. “One person does respirations while one person is doing compressions because it’s just a very tiring task.”

After the matter, she really felt no emotions, almost robotic.

“You’re just doing this because you gotta save this person,” Dougherty said. It was not until after the matter that she started to feel the rush of emotions.

“I thought I was fine, but especially with it being my first time, the emotions really just hit you and that was when I had my crying moment,” Dougherty said. “I didn’t even know if the patient had survived or not at that point.”

She still had 40 patients that needed to be taken care of, so even after just giving CPR, she had to go straight back to work.

“The family had to come in and get her belongings, so I was asked to speak with them, which was really scary because she didn’t make it,” Dougherty said. “But they just wanted to thank me. The patient actually had said she liked my shift the best because of my energy, so it was really comforting that I was the one to give her my all regardless of the situation”, said Dougherty

Despite this initial loss, Dougherty still walked away knowing she gained important experience.

“You question yourself regardless if you know you perform CPR correctly or not, especially since it was my first time. I asked myself ‘What could I have done different or better to save this person?’”, said Dougherty. “Since then I’ve performed CPR plenty of times and I’m confident in my work, and I know that I’m doing the best I can for that patient.”

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