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CPR for the first time...

I have been certified for some 20+ years but have never actually had to use it until yesterday. I was scared, excited, and sad all at the same time. I graduate from an ASN program this Friday and in a way, am relieved that I have had that first experience and all the emotions that come along with it...

How did you feel that very first time you did CPR in a real situation?

HermioneG, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

I've never done it out of hospital, but I can remember the first time I did it in the hospital, I was doing compressions. My adrenaline was through the roof and I was going way too fast. Thankfully the resident hollered at me to slow down.

We unfortunately lost the patient, and I had just switched off compressions when the loved ones arrived. The sound of their grief was almost more than I could handle, and I had a really hard time processing it. I walked out of the room and was just standing in the hallway with this weird sense of shock and loss, until a very kind nurse took me under his wing and encouraged me to allow myself a minute to just cry. After my shift I went home and couldn't sleep, and when I did I had these terrible and vivid dreams of the patient's face as I was doing compressions. I had a second makeup clinical the very next day and it was extremely difficult.

I've been a part of codes since then, and thankfully I've learned to process them better by talking to people that I trust. I don't want to say that I've gotten "used" to it (because how can someone get used to that) but all these other times have been different in a way. I've been able to handle them in a healthier manner.

The sadness is always there, though. When I was doing my senior practicum and participated in quite a few, I thankfully experienced a lot less fear and a lot less adrenaline towards the end, but there was always that same deep sadness. It never lessened. I welcome it though. I would never want to not feel it. I get some small peace from knowing that I did everything that I could. Sometimes it's enough, sometimes it's not enough. But I am just a small piece in a small moment at the end of another individual's life. I try my best, offer them and their family the most dignity and respect that I can, mentally acknowledge the enormity of that moment, and let myself feel it.

Anyways I'm happy for you that you were able to use some of your skills to help a patient in their time of need. Make sure to keep in touch with your emotions and talk to someone about it if you need to.


Thank you for sharing your experiences. I did not sleep well last night and I definitely can still see his face when I close my eyes. Something I will learn to be better at dealing with as time goes on. I had to decompress after as the patient did not make it. It was all too surreal - first OD, first cpr, first time witnessing someone pass on. I can only hope to learn and grow from this experience.


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