It was just an ordinary lazy Sunday morning.
Dr. Kevin Polley stopped by a local Dunkin Donuts in Greenville for a cup of coffee.
But once inside, he saw a commotion by the men’s room. The manager was standing over a man on the floor who wasn’t breathing. She was yelling, asking him if he was all right.
Polley, medical director of the Children's Emergency Center at Greenville Health System, sprang into action, assessing the man's condition and beginning CPR while the store manager called 911 and acted as liaison between the doctor and the emergency dispatcher.
“The patient was down and not breathing,” he told The Greenville News. “He was in respiratory arrest.”
A basic life support instructor, Polley said he started hands-only CPR, pumping the man’s chest hard and fast. But he still was not improving.
Minutes passed, so he began full CPR as staff and customers looked on. Before long, EMS arrived and brought medication that helped revive the man, he said. Then they stabilized him and transported him to the ER.
It was a lot of excitement for an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning. And Polley said it gave him a renewed appreciation for what EMS does in the field, as well as for a fully-equipped ER.
“EMS is such a tremendous asset that we take for granted and the average basic first aid kit doesn’t have anything to offer for a scenario like this,” he said.
“It made me more appreciative of the folks who do pre-hospital medicine in an uncontrolled environment, showing up at a house or a scene, and not having all the equipment at hand that we do," he added.
“Being a doctor with everything at your fingertips, it was a little distressing. I felt like what I’d be reaching for wasn’t available.
It gives you a different perspective.”
Later, Polley, who was inspired to go into medicine as a high school student after a fellow summer camper was struck by lightning miles from a hospital, realized that none of the donut shop staff was trained in CPR.
So he’s made arrangements to teach a class for them in the coming weeks.
“I got coffee there again last Sunday and we talked about it,” he said. “I just hope this will encourage people to learn CPR.”