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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Rancho Cordova RT Student Saves a Life

August 14, 2011
Marina in her SJVC uniform.

It was just another summer pool party for Rancho Cordova Respiratory Therapy student Marina Zaboltny.

After a long day of finals at SJVC, Marina, her daughter and a few other mothers and kids were enjoying a relaxing pool party – swimming, snacking and enjoying the calm of a summer afternoon.  It had been an enjoyable day that was just wrapping up when calm turned into chaos.

One of the mothers came running into the house with a little boy.

“He was completely blue, cyanotic and his eyes were rolled up – he was not responsive to anything,” said Marina.  “There was chaos and everything everybody was screaming and there were kids and we sent them to the other room and they were screaming too.”

There was a pause where Marina drew a deep breath and steadied her hands – “It makes me anxious just thinking about it.”

One of the girls started doing CPR “but I saw that she wasn’t doing it correctly,” said Marina.  “I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to do it.’”  As a respiratory therapy student at SJVC in her third term, this was the first real life scenario Marina encountered since beginning her program.

“I was like ‘This is my responsibility’ – you kind of freeze in that moment and you’re like ‘Wow, it’s my turn, it’s my time right now.’  I started doing CPR on him and gave him some breaths and he started coming back to life…that feeling when you see his lips turn pink and they were blue, blue blue…when I saw that we just started crying.”

Marina had told this story a few times and she said she often cries in the retelling.  “Anyone would do it,” she said.  “You learn all the steps [in school], how to do it, everything, you know it but it’s just so different in a real life situation – you step back and it’s a great feeling that you know what to do.  It’s not like ‘Oh my gosh, do I do this?  Do I do this?  Do I push harder?  Do I push slower?’  No.  It’s knowing what to do.”

As the only person in the healthcare field in attendance that day, Marina felt the pressure of the task but also the joy in knowing she was able and trained to help.

From the start of her school, Marina knew she wanted to go into the healthcare field and help people.  After waiting for two years to get into school to be a Registered Nurse, Marina started researching other related fields.

“I want to have a career, not just a job,” she said.  “I want my family – my child – to be proud of me that I’m helping other people.  Just getting an education is really important to me – getting a career, getting something stable I can rely on.”

But for Marina, helping people was not something that had to wait until her graduation in March.  Rather, she was able to put her skills to test and prove successful just this summer.  It was confirmation for Marina that she is in the right vocational field.

“After…I just kind of stepped back and thought about it, how amazing it is just to see the reaction of a person come back to life and that you’re able to help them.  It was just CPR but being in school in the healthcare field – it just makes you think there’s a lot of other things you can do with your education to help people in that field.”

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