WASHINGTON — Two fellow Shakespeare fans helped save the life of an 87-year-old retired doctor by administering CPR when he suffered cardiac arrest at D.C.’s Folger Theater in June.
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and others have greatness thrust upon them,” intoned D.C. fire Chief Gregory Dean, quoting from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” as he honored the two quick-acting bystanders — college student Dylan Mehri and nurse practitioner Michelle Michaels — in an Aug. 17 ceremony at Fire Station 29 on MacArthur Boulevard Northwest.
Mehri and Michaels had worked together to perform CPR on Dr. Edward Cornfeld of Potomac, Maryland.
“These people really are the people that deserve all the praise and the plaudits. They did fantastically well, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here,” said Dr. Cornfeld, an obstetrician who said he had no history of heart trouble before he collapsed at the theater.
Mehri learned CPR as an Eagle Scout and said, “I’d never been in a situation where I needed to use my CPR training abilities but I just realized I needed to do as much as I could, and I’m happy Michelle was there with me so that we could both work as a team to help save Dr. Cornfeld.”
While Michaels has been in tight spots before with more than 21 years as a nurse, her action at the theater was her first experience at “bystander CPR.”
“In my mind, I was wishing for my co-professionals that would step forward with a crash cart and all of the equipment, all of the trained nurses and physicians that you normally see in a hospital setting … luckily Dylan stepped forward,” Michaels said.
Last September, the D.C. government launched an effort to expand CPR training among residents and according to Chief Dean, 7,700 people had participated.
“I think Dr. Cornfeld is a great example of its value; you can truly save a life … I would say everybody in the community should step forward and learn CPR,” added Michaels.