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Jacqueline Irwin, Radiography ’17 Saves a Life in New Hampshire

  • In the span of just a few moments, Jacqueline Irwin, Radiography ’17 was able to spot someone in distress – and quickly acted to save a life.

    Irwin was relaxing with friends and enjoying a sunny Saturday at Braun Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee over the summer, when she spotted a young man in his twenties dive into shallow water from a boat. When he came up, he was floating face down.

    “His friends tapped him, thinking he was kidding around,” remembers Irwin. “Then they realized he was unresponsive, and they frantically dragged him onto the platform of their pontoon boat.”

    The young man wasn’t breathing and his lips were turning blue.

    “They yelled for a doctor or EMT or nurse to give CPR, and no one came forward,” said Irwin. “I swam over immediately and tilted the boy’s head back and instructed his friend through CPR until he choked up water and began breathing.”

    Quick reaction time was vital – and Irwin had the skills she needed to save a life, since Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) students are required to take a CPR course and earn CPR certification.

    “My first instinct was to step forward and help,” said Irwin. “I was surprised by how calm I was through the experience. I think it was because I didn’t know the person, so it made it easier for me to think clearly – and get the job done.”

    The young man was rushed to the ICU at Beth Israel with two collapsed vertebrae in the T-spine.

    For Irwin, the opportunity to apply her healthcare skills in a real-life setting with such vital need was inspiring. “Afterwards, I felt very proud of myself,” said Irwin. “It feels good to take the knowledge we’ve learned, apply it to real situations, and help others.”

    “The faculty were so pleased and proud to hear about Jacqueline’s story and her heroic deed,” said Chair of the School of Medical Imaging and Therapeutics Lisa Fanning, MEd, RT, R, CT. “We had no doubt she would be the person to step in and help.”

    Irwin’s advice for someone who encounters another person in need of medical attention is to keep everyone calm, and to “give clear direction to anyone helping”.

    She also recommends that everyone take a CPR certification course, a safety recommendation echoed by the Red Cross.

    “You might be the only person that knows how to give CPR in a situation, and a life could depend on it,” said Irwin.

    Her advice for aspiring healthcare specialists is to approach each learning opportunity with enthusiasm.

    “During your career courses or any extra information classes, don’t just go through the motions to get it done and pass – really digest and understand the information, because you never know when you’re going to need it,” she shared.

    Irwin is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Radiography in order to become an x-ray technologist, a career path she chose because of her love for photography – and because the possibility of working anywhere in the world intrigued her.

    “I have a love for helping others and making people feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” she shared, making her a perfect fit for a career in radiography and healthcare.

    After graduation, she plans to work at a hospital where she “loves the people,” and hopes to continue her studies by looking into bone densitometry.

    For Irwin, the supportive community at MCPHS has enabled her to grow as a student and as a future healthcare professional.

    “My professors never hesitate to take extra time out of their day to help me,” said Irwin. “Whether it’s help with studying for upcoming exams, having open lab to practice prior to my clinical internship, or help with revising my cover letters and resumes.”

    “I couldn’t ask for better guidance,” said Irwin. “My professors genuinely care about us students, and make sure we reach our greatest potentials.”

    For Irwin, her quick thinking and growing healthcare skillset certainly is a clear sign of that potential – and of great things to come.

    “Jacqueline exhibits her caring nature through the time she spends with her patients in the clinical setting,” said Lisa Fanning. “We know she will become a wonderful compassionate caregiver and we are proud to have her as a student.”