Monique AndersonA doctor who presented research on the importance of CPR during the American Heart Association’s resuscitation conference in Chicago proved her point hours later, saving a man who collapsed in a hotel lobby.

Monique Anderson, M.D., was talking with another doctor about the importance of fast response to cardiac emergencies while leaving a reception Sunday night when they saw a middle-age man face down on the ground.

Anderson and three other doctors ran to him, rolled him over and saw that his face was ashen. He was not breathing and had no pulse.

Anderson – who had never performed CPR outside a hospital setting – quickly yelled out instructions to one of the doctors to call 9-1-1 and started chest compressions. After a few rounds, the man sat up and said, “I’m OK, I’m OK,” Anderson said.

Anderson said her first thought when they saw him was, “Is this real?” The second thought was, “Take action.”

“We knew we had to get to him,” she said. “We assessed, we called for help and initiated what we learned.”

As she was giving CPR, one of the other doctors cheered her on, yelling, “Keep pushing! Keep pushing!”

“It was a team effort,” Anderson said.

As of Monday afternoon, the man had undergone tests at a hospital and was doing well.

The doctor who called 9-1-1 was Eric Peterson, M.D., M.P.H., a longtime volunteer with the American Heart Association and director of cardiovascular medicine for the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina, where Anderson also works as a medical instructor.

“Panic quickly sets in to even the best of us, but really having somebody there who knew what they were doing, doing CPR, was really key to keeping this organized and running well,” Peterson said. “And once it was all done, what an amazing feeling. This is sort of what we all do and talk about in research, now coming to life.”

Anderson, who is also an active volunteer with the American Heart Association, focuses exclusively on cardiac arrest research and has trained thousands of people in CPR at Duke and throughout North Carolina.

She has pursued resuscitation as a career ever since she treated a patient in the cardiac critical care unit. She was so inspired by that patient that she made a short documentary about it called, “Surviving Cardiac Arrest, A Family’s Perspective on a Second Chance at Life.”

“It’s amazing to see that there’s been a lot of research in the area and it’s growing, but survival has not changed to the point that we’re happy about,” she said.

Only 10 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests survive, and the majority don’t get the immediate help they need from bystanders. High-quality CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.

As a volunteer for the AHA, Anderson serves on the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. She also serves on the planning committee for the Resuscitation Science Symposium, held Saturday and Sunday in Chicago.

In addition to presenting research on the importance of high quality in-hospital CPR this year, Anderson also led a first-of its kind study showing where CPR training is happening across the United States.

Her lifesaving experience Sunday reinforced the importance of her work.

“I want to reiterate how important it is for people to act fast in emergency situations and remind everyone to learn CPR,” she said.