Kaela Meyer was breathing a sigh of relief. The senior co-captain of the Huskers Cheer Squad had finally decided where she was headed next for graduate school.
Soon though, she found herself giving lifesaving CPR.
Meyer, a psychology major from Beatrice, was having a celebratory lunch with her mom March 14 at the Gateway Mall Applebee’s when a man in the booth behind her started having a seizure. Meyer quickly realized what was happening, but also noticed something else was wrong.
“I know for seizures, you’re really supposed to make room, let them be and call whoever you need to call, but when I looked at him, he was blue — he did not look good — so I realized he probably wasn’t breathing,” Meyer said. “I rushed over there, and I said, ‘Hi, my name is Kaela. I know CPR. Can I help?’”
Meyer turned him over and began CPR chest compressions, something she learned recently through a course she took at Campus Recreation.
“After a couple rounds — I don’t know if he had something caught in his throat or if he needed something to get going — but he coughed and took a big breath and started to breathe on his own again,” Meyer said. “We held him on his side until the EMTs came.”
Meyer took the First Aid and CPR course — short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation — in November to fulfill a credit hour she had available and because she thought it was a good life skill to have as a yoga instructor at the Lotus House of Yoga in Lincoln.
“I had a free spot in my schedule and I thought, ‘this is something that’s useful,’ so I signed up,” she said. “I had only learned a little bit about CPR in high school in P.E. class.”
Meyer never really thought she’d use what she learned, but credited her instructors, led by Jessica Wagner, assistant director for instructional, aquatics and risk management at Campus Rec, with giving her the confidence to act in that moment.
“They really emphasized in class, that if you’re qualified to help, if you know what to do, you should absolutely be confident in using your skills because it is a matter of life and death,” she said.
After the EMTs came and she spoke with a responding police officer, Meyer exchanged telephone numbers with the woman who was dining with the man. She has since learned he’s recovering.
She and her mom tried to continue their excursion shopping for business attire for Meyer’s graduate school career. Meyer is planning to attend East Carolina University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.
“We weren’t really hungry anymore, and we tried to go shopping afterward, but my mom and I were both just kind of in shock, looking at each other like, ‘did that just happen?’” she said.
Meyer is relieved to know she was in the right place at the right time, and said more students could also make a difference by becoming trained in CPR.
“I would highly, highly recommend taking it,” she said. “It’s a small amount of time over two days and you learn so much, from basic first aid and the Heimlich maneuver to CPR. They prepare you for a plethora of situations. If something happens, you can step up to help.”
The course, Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, is offered several times each semester. Information can be found at the Campus Recreation Academic Classes website. The course is also offered as a non-credit course for faculty, staff and the public through the Rec’s outreach classes. Additional courses offered are first aid only, pediatric CPR and first aid, and professional rescuers.
Meyer’s heroic actions were also featured by KLKN-TV.