By Wendy Sarubbi | October 27, 2021 11:56 am

A UCF medical student, who helped lead his college’s first responder unit as an undergraduate, helped perform lifesaving CPR at a Lake Nona restaurant where he was dining.

Justin Geraghty

Justin Geraghty, a first-year M.D. candidate, was dining with classmates when he heard a commotion at a nearby table and saw an older woman drop to the floor. They could not feel a pulse and she wasn’t breathing, so he and another diner began CPR. When they were able to detect a pulse, they rolled the patient on her side and could hear her begin labored breathing by the time paramedics arrive. “Seeing her heart beating on the monitor, I knew we had done the right thing,” he said.

Before medical school, Geraghty attended the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology and was a volunteer EMT with the Gator Emergency Medical Response Unit. He later was director of that group, which provides medical assistance to faculty, staff and students on campus.

His supervisor there, UF Police Sgt. Scott Silver, said he was grateful – but not surprised – by Geraghty’s lifesaving actions in Orlando. “That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done,” he said. “He was always a dedicated first responder.”

Geraghty says he believed the diner choked on some food, stopped breathing and then went into cardiac arrest. He heard family members say she had been suffering from multiple health issues. While he isn’t sure the long-term outcome of his actions, restaurant workers received a call from the diner’s family, saying she was alive at the hospital after the incident and receiving care.

Geraghty said the incident reinforces the importance of getting CPR trained, laughing that his training during the first weeks of medical school was actually his fifth time being certified. “A basic CPR course takes only two hours,” he said. “Two hours to save someone’s life.”

Dr. Jeff LaRochelle, associate dean for academic affairs and a practicing internal medicine specialist, applauded Justin’s service to others. “At the core of all physicians is a desire to help others in need, which manifests in actions taken both in and out of formal healthcare settings,” he said.  

“As medical educators, we provide our leaners with the knowledge and skills to take the appropriate action, but it is the heart and soul of a physician who acts when needed.”

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