A semester’s worth of practice was put to good use in a real emergency when an NAU student used her first aid and CPR skills on the scene of an accident.

While driving in Phoenix over the winter break, senior speech pathology major Brigitte Borcuta came upon slow-moving traffic. When she saw a small crowd hovering over a woman lying in the street, Borcuta—who had just completed a semester-long first aid and CPR class at NAU—pulled over to see if she could help.

“I can’t even describe what was going through my head,” Borcuta said. “Because we’d done so many practice scenarios in class, this felt very natural.”

Upon learning that the unconscious woman had been hit by a car while using the crosswalk, Borcuta let her instincts and training kick into gear.

Two other witnesses on the scene indicated they also had some first aid training, but Borcuta’s confidence soon had her taking charge of the situation until the paramedics arrived.

Calling it an example of being in the “right place at the right time,” Borcuta said she relied on information she had learned in her class to check the woman’s breathing and keep her airway open. As the woman regained consciousness, she began complaining of arm and back pain, and Borcuta stabilized her head in case of a spinal injury. Once paramedics got to the scene, she helped provide a summary of the situation before they loaded the woman into the ambulance.

“I am so grateful that I took the class and for all of those practice scenarios,” Borcuta said.

Laura Bounds, her instructor for the class, agreed. “Brigitte was a very good first aid/CPR student,” she said. “I believe she played a crucial role in the outcome of the woman who was hit.”