Though she’s uncomfortable with the title, many in the community think Nicole Lynch is a hero after helping to save a life in Duncan on May 6.
Lynch, a licensed practical nurse at the Cowichan District Hospital, was working out on a treadmill in her gym while facing a window when she noticed a group of people nearby on the street who were obviously using drugs.
She said one of the group, who was on a bike, suddenly fell off the bike onto his face and remained on the ground.
“I thought he’d get up, but when he didn’t, I decided that I had to help,” she said.
“I asked some people in the gym to watch out for me as I went because the group was using drugs and I was nervous. One of the other people in the gym decided to come with me.”
Lynch said the man on the ground was blue and she detected no pulse.
She said one of the group had a naloxone kit and she used it to try to help the overdosed man.
Naloxone is a medication that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, and the kits are readily available in the Valley to deal with overdose victims.
She said that along with an injection of naloxone, and her using CPR to try to get him to begin breathing again, the man finally let out a breath but began to deteriorate again almost immediately.
“It was at this point that I was wondering if anyone had called an ambulance,” Lynch said.
“I tried another dose of naloxone and kept giving him CPR and then, finally, he began to breath normally again, became conscious and began asking me who I was and what I was doing.”
Lynch said the man soon got up and was collecting his things when an ambulance finally arrived.
She said she was encouraging him to be taken to the hospital to be checked out, but he refused and went on his way after a quick assessment by the ambulance crew.
“I really wish he had gone to the hospital,” Lynch said.
She said that as an LPN, she regularly is called on to help doctors and registered nurses at the hospital in such situations.
But, despite the fact that she is fully trained in CPR and first aid as part of her LPN training, she isn’t usually the person in charge of a medical team at the hospital to deal with such emergencies.
“I’ve always wondered what I would do if a situation like this ever came up while I was out in the community, and would I have the wherewithal to know what to do,” Lynch said.
“I’m now reassured that I do know and am prepared to help while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I’ve heard a lot of people say to me since the incident that they would never have done that but I don’t believe them. There’s a great sense of humanity in all of us and I think anyone would have stepped in to help in any way they could.”
The irony of the fact that May 7-13 is National Nurses Week was not lost on Lynch.
“The nurses I work with are heroes all the time for all the great work they do for people that few hear about,” she said.
“I give a big shout out to all the nurses because they are certainly worth it.”