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From chemical formulas to 911: Two student EMTs save seizing student mid-exam

Andrew Greenberg (left) and Aakrsh Misra (right) look off into the distance as they stand in front of Young Hall. The two, who are both student EMTs, helped save a student who was having a seizure during their midterm exam. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Yashila Suresh

Feb. 24, 2024 7:41 p.m.

Post updated Feb. 25 at 10:56 p.m.

A little after 8 a.m. on Feb. 13, Andrew Greenberg was taking his Chemistry 14CL midterm when he, along with more than 200 other students taking the exam, heard a scream.

Near the front of the classroom, a student was having a seizure, and though students and TAs panicked, Greenberg – a trained emergency medical technician – jumped into action alongside fellow student EMT Aakrsh Misra, moving the student to the ground and making sure his airways were clear.

“I used one of the techniques we learned in the EMT class – it’s called a jaw thrust maneuver,” Greenberg said. “I readjusted his airway once again, and then he started breathing, which then allowed him to regain consciousness.”

The student was eventually taken to the hospital by paramedics, who arrived a while later. Maher Henary, the course’s instructor and a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said though he panicked during the incident, Greenberg and Misra were vital in saving the student’s life and ensuring that everyone remained calm.

Despite calling 911 immediately, the paramedics took a while to arrive, he said, adding that he attributed this to them being unfamiliar with campus and, therefore, being unable to locate the building in a timely manner.

“I thought this was (the paramedics were) going to come right away, but … (they took) 10 to 15 minutes to arrive,” he said. “I was shocked.”

Greenberg and Misra said they were able to save the student’s life by staying calm and working as a team. However, both were already involved in saving lives before that day in the lecture hall, having been certified through UCLA’s EMT program.

Misra, a second-year biology student, said he became an EMT because he saw it as a way to become more involved in his community, adding that he appreciates being able to learn and help people through his work.

Greenberg, a third-year psychobiology student, said he chose to become an EMT after witnessing a medical emergency in the past and being unable to provide aid.

“I could be the person to step in if something were to occur like that,” Greenberg said. “I didn’t want to ever have that feeling of hopelessness again.”

(Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Misra (left) and Greenberg (right) pose in front of the Young Hall lecture halls. Both said the experience taught them to be prepared for anything that could happen. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA offers an accelerated four-week EMT program and an online ten-week EMT program consisting of lectures and skills labs. Once certified, students can take the National Registry Exam, and if they pass, they can apply for a state license to officially work in emergency services as an EMT, according to the program’s website.

Greenberg said the experience made him very grateful for his training.

“(It) made me very grateful that I was prepared in this instance, because had I and the other EMT not been there, I don’t know what would have happened,” Greenberg said.

Misra added that when the two spoke with emergency services later, the head paramedic said that without Misra and Greenberg’s aid, the student might not have survived.

“The real emotions hit after the whole thing had subsided. I think there was a lot of adrenaline pumping in me as well,” Misra said. “I almost blacked out myself – in the way that I wasn’t worrying about anything else.”

Henary said he is grateful for Misra and Greenberg’s help during the emergency, adding that he told fellow faculty about the event with the hope that they can be more prepared if similar incidents occur.

Even if students do not become EMTs, Greenberg said he encourages every single person to get CPR certified, as there is no downside to learning.

Misra said the situation also taught him to be prepared for anything, adding that he hopes his fellow classmates will learn from this experience.

“You have no idea what could happen,” he said. “In my eyes, at least, it’s better to be prepared than to just hope for the best, and if something bad happens, just be like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t have done anything.’”

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