Our Nurse of the Week is Navy Lt. Cmdr. Erika Schilling, a military nurse midwife who used her medical training to help save a man’s life during a Washington State Ferry trip. Schilling had spent the day at a museum with her two sons and was on the return trip home when she overheard another passenger frantically telling someone that a passenger needed immediate medical attention. She jumped to attention, performing lifesaving CPR on a complete stranger.
“I just happened to be there and heard that help was needed. I heard her on the phone saying, ‘This is an emergency.’ My ears went up.”
When Schilling was brought to the ill passenger, he was slumped over and didn’t appear to be breathing. Schilling immediately moved him onto the floor and began performing CPR while another passenger retrieved an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). She shared CPR duties with another passenger trained in basic life support skills for 14 minutes until the ferry docked and emergency medical responders took over, transporting the man to a nearby medical center.
Schilling is a military nurse midwife at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington state. She credits her 21 years of Navy and Nurse Corps training for allowing her to save a stranger’s life on a normal ferry ride while off duty. Schilling tells the Department of Defense, “I just happened to be there and heard that help was needed. I heard her on the phone saying, ‘This is an emergency.’ My ears went up.”
Once the man was safely in the hands of emergency medical responders, Schilling found out that the man and his wife were visiting the area. Schilling stayed with his wife and drove her from the ferry to the hospital. The man is reported to be safely recovering at home following the incident.
Schilling has since been awarded the Life Ring Award from Washington State Ferry, a certificate usually reserved for employees who respond to life-and-death emergencies or perform rescues. To learn more about Schilling’s lifesaving efforts, visit here.