The story of four heroic U students

Student Life Center

On the "U Rising" podcast, President Ruth V. Watkins engages in insightful conversations with students, staff, faculty, alumni and community stakeholders who are at the center of the state's flagship research university. President Watkins also connects with other leaders to give listeners a fresh take on top issues and innovations in higher education in Utah and across the country. You can subscribe to U Rising via iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and other podcast streaming services.

When a patron at the George S. Eccles Student Life Center experienced a medical emergency, these four University of Utah students came to his aid—drawing on their training and working as a team during the crisis. Here’s what happened. Recorded on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Thanks to Brooke Adams, James Tombs and Dave White for technical assistance. Music by Taylor Hartley.

President Ruth Watkins: Welcome to the U Rising podcast, where you get to meet people who are making an enormous difference at the University of Utah. My name is Ruth Watkins. I'm the president of the U. And my guests today are four really remarkable University of Utah students. They all work at the U's George S. Eccles Student Life Center, our campus rec center.

They are Kaylon Draney, Hannah Waldron, Justin Krebs and Andreas Hendrick. Welcome to all four of you. Thank you for being with me. So, listeners, this is a really special issue of U Rising—a  feel good story, which I think we could all use right now. As we begin, I'd like to ask each of my four guests to give a little bit of background about themselves, where they're from, what their studying at the U and what they do at the George S. Eccles Student Life Center. So, Hannah, we'll start with you.

Hannah Waldron: Hi, I'm Hannah. I'm a junior, I'm a psychology major and I'm a facility manager at the Student Life Center. And I also work at the front desk.

President Watkins: Excellent. How about you Justin?

Justin Krebs: Hey everyone. I'm Justin. I'm from Windsor, Colorado. I've just finished my sophomore year at the U. I'm studying in business and I work in the aquatics department at the life center, life guarding.

President Watkins: Excellent. And Andreas, tell us about you.

Andreas Hendrick: Hello, my name is Andreas Hendrick. I actually graduated this semester with a degree in mechanical engineering, emphasis in micro-nano scale. And I worked at the Student Life Center in the aquatics department the whole time that I've been in college.

President Watkins: Oh, that's excellent. And Kaylon.

Kaylon Draney: Hi, I'm Kaylon. I'm just finishing up my third year at the U. I'm, studying material science and engineering and also environmental and sustainability studies. And I'm from Chicago.

President Watkins: Ah, excellent. So, I understand that something truly remarkable happened last fall at the Student Life Center. Can you tell me a little bit about what happened from your perspective? I'll let you decide how you're going to jump in on this.

Hannah Waldron: I guess I'll go first, since I was kind of the first one there. So, I actually wasn't working at the time, I was just working out and I kind of heard something, it sounded like somebody had fallen. I looked over and somebody was on the ground and there was one other girl there as well. And she was kind of trying to check on him and see what was going on. So, I ran to get some help from our other staff, which is when they radioed for Kaylon. And when I got back, the girl, she was checking for a pulse and she couldn't find one on him. And so I called 911 and she started CPR and then lucky for us, there was a physician working out there as well. He came up and he was helping and that's how it started. And then that's when Kaylon got there.

Kaylon Draney: Yeah. So, I got a call on the radio. I was just downstairs cleaning, my normal task. I got a radio to go up to the third floor and they didn't exactly say what was happening. So I wasn't clearly aware of the situation going into it, but I knew that was a weird thing to get called to. So, I made my way up there and I saw Hannah and she looked a little like something was wrong. I knew something was wrong. And so I saw the scene. They asked for an AED. I was able to get the AED.

And from there, I was able to manage the situation, kind of my job as facility manager on shift to make sure everything was coordinated—coordinate with the staff on duty, make sure the proper tasks were being done. I mean, we have procedures that need to be followed, but you can't be fully trained for those situations. Everything is unique. And certain problems came up as we went through the procedures and we were able to problem solve through that, but I was able to radio for help with the lifeguards, Justin and Andreas. And then I was able to coordinate with some of the other staff that we had on shift to meet with the EMS once they arrived after we called 911, things like that. I was mostly helping coordinate things.

President Watkins: I guess this must be where Andreas and Justin come on scene. So tell us about your roles.

Justin Krebs: Yeah, so we were on a typical Sunday guarding shift. Andreas and I usually work together on Sundays, and we heard on the radio that something was happening on the third floor. They weren't specific as to what, and that's when Andreas called up and asked if they needed any First Aid or CPR help from us lifeguards. Upstairs they said they did. Luckily, we had a third lifeguard there who was able to manage everything going on at the pool at the time. It was a Sunday, when we let families in, so it was a little bit busy and Andreas and I headed upstairs. Andreas, if you want to take it from there.

Andreas Hendrick: After we heard the call for lifeguards, we have a 35-pound bag that has everything that you could need. We call it our go bag or jump bag. And so I grabbed that and I called for Justin's help because it sounded like a situation we're going to need to respond to. And we made our way from the aquatics all the way to the third floor. And when we arrived at the scene, everyone that has already spoken was already there. And we saw the patron laying on the ground. So immediately we put our protective equipment on, we gloved up and everything, and then reassessed the victim. We had to check for a pulse, see if he had any breathing or anything. And then after discovering that he did not have a pulse and was also not breathing, we immediately began our resuscitation. Justin, if you want to tell that.

Justin Krebs: Yeah. When we got up there, as was mentioned before, there was a physician already doing CPR and, as a patron, for him, I know that was a scary situation. So, we kind of hopped in and took over where he left off. And I think we did two rounds of CPR with myself on breaths using the masks. And I had help from Kaylon giving those breaths and Andreas was on compressions. At that point, we were able to get the AED on the patron on the ground and it advised us to give him a shock. So we cleared everyone out of the way and we shocked the patient using the defibrillator and then it told us to continue CPR. So, we just kept going on from there.

President Watkins: You know, I have to say if anyone ever doubted that University of Utah students are remarkably talented, you four should dispel that doubt. What an amazing story and what incredible people you are. Tell me about the training that you received to enable you to be prepared for an emergency like that.

Kaylon Draney: Yeah, Hannah and I were both facility managers for the Student Life Center and part of our training is emergency response. So we all have been trained in CPR, how to you use the AED—all staff at the student life center are trained on that. It's hard to actually be trained for these situations, as I said. Each situation is unique. I mean, there were different problems that came up that we had to rely on our facility-manager knowledge of the building and just use our basic problem solving skills. So, where we just had to rely on our skills and just kind of problem solve through it. But I know our boss, Greg Reinhardt, he has really worked with us and prepares with us every semester, at least, to work through situations like this and kind of go through role plays.

President Watkins: It really speaks to the importance of training and also to your skills as problem solvers, because you don't have much time to weigh a lot of different options, you have to act. And I'm so impressed by that. If anyone is comfortable telling me a little bit about how you felt afterwards—you probably reacted very swiftly, but later emotionally processed this a little bit. So, tell me a little bit about that.

Andreas Hendrick: Yeah, I'm fine to pick up on this point. For me, definitely during the situation, I absolutely had a rush of adrenaline. When you're doing these skills, a lot of the times, it's stuff that we've just practiced over and over. So it’s kind of just second nature just takes over and you just respond, but about 40 minutes or so after the incident, I could finally find myself starting to calm down and stuff and realize the situation that had just happened. But this was also in the middle of the finals week, last fall. So, I kind of had some other stuff on my plate. In a sense, it was very nice because I didn't have time to kind of like think through things or analyze because I had tests the next day. I was busy studying.

Justin Krebs: I'll jump in here. I think before the situation we're trained to do steps A, B and C, but when you're actually in a situation, it's not going to be the same as how you're trained. But us four being able to jump in there, we had a good outcome. He had no pulse, no breathing when we found him. And then when EMS took over and wheeled him out of the building, he had a pulse and he was breathing. So, we definitely had a good outcome, which made it feel a little bit better. It's kind of an eerie feeling, knowing that someone was on the brink of death and, luckily, we were able to pull them out of it. It's a good feeling to have knowing that you helped someone.

President Watkins: Now, I would say you're just incredible people. Hannah, were you going to make a comment there?

Hannah Waldron: Oh, I was just going to say, yeah, adding off of what Justin and Andreas said, in the moment, you don't really realize what's happening. You just, you remember all the steps that we've been taught, which I'm so grateful for our bosses and everything that they've taught us because that made me so much more prepared in that moment. But yeah, after, you know, after you’ve kind of calmed down, you're like, Oh my goodness, what just happened? But you know, luckily with the four of us together, the steps that I forgot, Kaylon remembered, and the things that Kaylon and I forgot, Justin and Andreas remembered. And so, with all of us together, we were able to, hit every step and make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible in that situation. So, yeah, but after was really a lot, because in the moment it's just craziness and you’ve just got to do what you're trained to do. And then after you can take a moment and really think about it.

President Watkins: And I think as you all think about it, you have something really remarkable in your life story about helping facilitate another life. And that's a pretty special thing to be able to say. Kaylon, is there anything you wanted to add to that?

Kaylon Draney: Yeah, no, I agree with everything and it was really difficult just having to manage the situation and going through it. But yeah, as they said, the adrenaline was running. Like you don't really have a lot of time to think of what's actually happening. You're just going through the steps and problem solving it. Especially after that first week, it was really cool to see how we grew as a team, especially at the Student Life Center and as a community. Also, I kind of think I learned the value of teamwork, as Hannah explained, and it also helped me gain confidence in my leading skills and my problem solving.

President Watkins: Yes, I'm sure. And I want you to know how impressed I am by the four of you and reassured that we are providing the kind of training and attracting the kind of students who can literally save lives. We all owe you a debt of gratitude from the University of Utah. Thank you for what you've done. Kaylon, Hannah, Justin, Andreas, we are so fortunate to have great leadership at the George S. Eccles Student Life Center. At the top, Mary Bohlig, who's been a remarkable leader at the University of Utah for quite a while. Mary, great work. And thank you all so much.

Listeners, thank you for joining us on the U Rising podcast. I will say it's going to be hard to top today's lifesavers, but I hope you'll listen to our next episode as well. And I look forward to greeting all of you students and I hope I can meet you personally and thank you that way. So, thanks listeners. Thanks guests. And see you for the next U Rising podcast.

Kaylon Draney: Thanks for having us!