Amber Buckingham was at the Minnesota State Fair on a late Sunday night when someone cried for help.
A Mexican salsa band had just ended its performance on a side stage, people were clearing out and employees were closing gates.
Buckingham, of Albertville, recently finished emergency medical technician (EMT) training, so her first instinct was to rush toward the stage, where a band member had collapsed.
“It was then I found a man down, with a crowd of about 15 people standing dumfounded around him,” Buckingham said. “Not one person had started CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), nor did they know how to do it. I immediately slid across the floor onto my knees to tend to this man. I was so terrified when I announced my presence as an EMT.”
Buckingham said she then took control of the situation. She asked the onlookers what happened, “but was not able to hear a straight story with 15 vocal and scared people in my ear.”
She checked the man’s breathing, there was none; she checked his pulse, it was barely there. She immediately began CPR and asked bystanders to call 911 and find the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED). She also pointed to the victim’s band mate to assist her.
“There was a little language barrier,” she said. “The man put on his game face and took my instructions so well. He was terrified. He held his own though. He deserves a lot of credit for being brave and remaining calm.”
After four to five rounds of CPR, Buckingham and the band mate were able to revive the victim’s breathing. They continued CPR until paramedics arrived. She learned that the man had a heart attack and was shocked four times before being transported to a hospital.
Recalling the experience, Buckingham said she was surprised no one in the crowd new CPR.
“That could have been anyone’s father, brother, husband, friend,” she said. “It’s important that more people learn CPR.”
Furthermore, Buckingham also said no employees knew where the closest AED was located, and encouraged that employees should be trained.
Besides kicking in her EMT instincts, Buckingham also employed her motherly instincts when she learned that the victim’s teenage daughter was distraught after her father was transported.
“I found her in the corner crying,” Buckingham said. “I looked at her and introduced myself, I sat down in front of her and told her that we got her dad breathing again and that paramedics were now with him. She was so relieved.”
Buckingham said she did not learn of the man’s condition after he was transported, but felt he would recover.
“That was seriously hard to walk away from, not knowing the final outcome,” she said. “But I have full faith that he is alright.”