By Kelly John Walker
The day began, like most Tuesdays at Dr. Pamela Marzban's family and cosmetic dentistry practice in Burke, Virginia, with the busy but peaceful hum typical of a thriving dentist’s office.
Dr. Marzban had just administered anesthesia to a patient needing a crown when, suddenly, a horrific crunch of metal and glass shattered the cadence of the workday. In that moment, a heart stopped beating, and a life teetered on the precipice.
A truck had jumped a curb and hit a light pole in the parking lot outside Dr. Marzban's practice. Even before she and her team could mobilize, a witness began struggling to pull the driver out of the wreck.
Dr. Marzban and her team had trained and drilled to handle in-office dental emergencies, but they never dreamed they’d be called upon to serve as auto-accident paramedics.
Their training paid off.
Following emergency protocols rehearsed for dental emergencies, one of Dr. Marzban’s assistants grabbed a red AED bag, and immediately phoned 911. While Dr. Marzban and her assistant rushed outside to help, a second staff member stood watch over the patient.
Arriving on the scene, Dr. Marzban recounted, “The man was turning purple and gasping, then he passed out and his pulse stopped.”
Had the two dental team members not maintained their Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) training, they might not have been able to keep the victim alive till the paramedics arrived.
The witness, who turned out to be an active-duty soldier, began compression while Dr. Marzban performed Advanced Airway clearing as the AED unit charged. The AED read “shock advised,” so she opened the victim’s shirt and shocked him as instructed.
The injured man gasped loudly, then crashed again…no pulse.
The AED advised another shock, which Dr. Marzban administered.
The driver's heart began to beat once more.
Dr. Marzban's and the Good Samaritan soldier were able to keep the driver alive long enough to pass the responsibility over to the EMS crew when it arrived.
Dr. Marzban never learned the name of the soldier alongside whom she’d worked, nor really had the chance to thank him properly. Once the EMS arrived, the team returned to their crown case and her regular daily schedule of exams and treatments.
Weeks after the accident, the driver whose life Dr. Marzban and her team had saved, walked into their office unannounced to express his gratitude.
“Thank you ever so much for saving my life,” he exclaimed.
“Thank you for not dying!” Dr. Marzban responded.
[Editor’s Note: Dr. Marzban and her staff have taken the DOCS Education ACLS Recertification course five times and consider it vital to keep their certification and skills current.
The one-day DOCS Education class is specifically designed for dental offices, focusing on how to handle a crisis using the staff and equipment dentists have on hand. Applying that training to other life-saving emergencies, such as auto accidents, is optional.]
Author: Kelly John Walker is Senior Writer and Editor with Strategic Dentistry, the parent company of DOCS Education. He holds a Master of Science (MS) degree in Environmental Science from New Mexico State University and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English Composition. This is his first article for Incisor.