05134-Feature-Lifesaving layover_Blog

University of Dayton student Matthew Lickenbrock was driving to an evening class in April when he saw a flash of lightning that appeared to hit the engineering building where he was headed.

Pulling into the parking lot, he saw a young man face down on the ground. It was 23-year-old Sean Ferguson, a marketing major who had been struck by lightning, according to university officials.

Ferguson wasn’t breathing or moving. Lickenbrock, 21, immediately went to work giving Hands-Only CPR to revive Ferguson. He was relieved after a few minutes by Steven Pope, a nurse anesthetist who had been at the nearby recreation center. Pope detected a pulse and Ferguson was breathing by the time the ambulance arrived. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

Matthew Lickenbrock

Matthew Lickenbrock

Lickenbrock was thankful that he could help save Ferguson using CPR — which he had only learned just days before at an American Heart Association Hands-Only CPR training kiosk.

“It was kind of a blur — a lot of adrenaline,” Lickenbrock said. “[I was thinking] what did I do two days ago at the kiosk? 100 beats per minute, compress two inches down.”

Lickenbrock took the CPR training after spotting the kiosk during a three-hour layover at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. “I went over just to check it out and maybe learn something,” the engineering major said. “I actually had never learned CPR.”

The CPR training kiosk includes a CPR manikin and touch screen. Users get Hands-Only CPR instructions, practice CPR and take a 30-second CPR test. The system then offers feedback on how deep a user pushed down on the chest, the number of chest compressions per minute and hand placement — factors that influence the effectiveness of CPR.

Cardiac arrest victims are more likely to survive if they receive immediate CPR. Yet only a third of American adults feel confident performing CPR, according to a 2014 AHA online survey. Many said they would hesitate because they fear hurting the victim if CPR is not done correctly.

Lickenbrock completed the program three times over 15 minutes. He didn’t push hard enough on the manikin’s chest on his first attempt. But by the third try, he scored a perfect 100.

The AHA installed its CPR kiosk at the Dallas airport in June 2013. About 17,000 people have used it since. Through a grant from Anthem Foundation, seven additional training kiosks will be installed in public places by the end of 2015, according to the AHA.

“No one ever thinks they’ll use CPR. You learn it but hope you don’t need to use it,” Lickenbrock said.

“It was such a blessing that Matt came along – I’d never been that afraid for somebody in my life,” said Jamie Obermeyer, a Dayton adjunct professor who was at the scene after Ferguson was struck. Obermeyer said his last CPR training was 20 years ago, but he plans to take a CPR course this summer.

Sean Ferguson, with professor Jamie Obermeyer, came home from the hospital on Monday.

Sean Ferguson, with professor Jamie Obermeyer, came home from the hospital on Monday.

Lickenbrock said his parents, both urgent care doctors, were “kicking themselves” when they found out their son had not been CPR-trained sooner. But they urged him to share his story to emphasize the value of learning CPR.

Ferguson’s parents told him what Lickenbrock had done to save his life.

“That’s when the magnitude of the situation really hit me,” said Ferguson, who had a broken jaw and severe burns over a third of his body. He was released from the hospital Monday after nearly five weeks. “For a couple of days I only knew that I was struck by lightning, and I had no idea I had gone into cardiac arrest. I quickly referred to Matt as my guardian angel.”

Ferguson plans to return to school in the fall and graduate in December.

“I feel like I have a second chance at life and I need to maximize that as much as I can,” Ferguson said. “I know that all this wasn’t a coincidence.”

Photos courtesy of Matthew Lickenbrock and Mark Ferguson