Teenager Uses CPR Technique Seen on ‘The Office' to Save Toddler

The Massachusetts teenager recently was awarded for her heroics after helping to save the life of a 2-year-old

Savennah Rodrigues and Steve Carell

A teenager in Massachusetts saved the life of a toddler with a little help from…Michael Scott from “The Office.”

Savennah Mendes-Rodrigues credited a scene from the sitcom –  in which employees undergoing CPR training are instructed to apply chest compressions to the beat of the Bee Gees song “Stayin Alive” – for helping her to properly do so on the 2-year-old son of a family friend who fell into her pool last August.

“The episode of ‘The Office’ definitely helped me with the rhythm,” Mendes-Rodrigues told NBC after recently being awarded for her heroics. “I was calm in the situation, but for someone who might not be calm, I think it would be really easy to just kind of lose sight of what you’re doing and either be too quick or too slow when you’re doing your chest compressions. So, that episode of ‘The Office’ kind of just helped to make sure you’re doing it correctly as far as depth and speed.”

Scott, played by actor Steve Carell, applies chest compressions on a CPR manikin too quickly and is instructed to pump to the chorus of “Stayin’ Alive” in the opening of the episode. 

Scott says he loves the song but initially begins singing the lyrics to “I Will Survive.” He’s then told the correct lyric of “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive” and performs compressions to the tune of the song.

Mendes-Rodrigues did the same but while facing an actual life-or-death situation.

“That scene specifically just really helped me to stay calm and to keep my mind right because not a lot of people can be put in such a stressful situation and remain calm,” she said. “Just knowing that song and that scene, giving yourself something to kind of distract you and to make sure you’re doing the right thing, I think that’s really helpful, and I think that’s really what I gained out of that scene the most.”

She was in her bedroom of her Abington home with her older sister when the two suddenly heard their mother screaming. Sensing the panic in their mother’s tone, Mendes-Rodrigues and her sister ran out to help.

“Low and behold, all I see is a little boy just lying on the kitchen floor,” she said.  

Mendes-Rodrigues, 19 years old at the time, noticed he did not appear to be breathing and began to administer CPR while her sister called for an ambulance. Mendes-Rodrigues, a student at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science who is majoring in pre-dental hygiene, was first certified in CPR in high school but had never performed it during an emergency.

She applied chest compressions on the boy for what she estimated to be three to five minutes.

“It wasn’t too long,” she said. “Just enough for me to start to feel, like, the slightest bit of fatigue.”

She then noticed that he began to take deep breaths but was not fully exhaling.

“While I was performing CPR, my mind was kind of just wandering and I started to think like, ‘Am I doing this fast enough? Am I going deep enough?’” she said. “To kind of redirect my mind somewhere else, that scene was the first thing I thought of. So, then I just started singing along to it in my head.”

Mendes-Rodrigues said she continued to perform CPR until the boy began breathing on his own. Paramedics arrived shortly after and fully resuscitated him before taking him to a nearby hospital. Mendes-Rodrigues was told her actions may have saved the boy’s life. 

“I actually didn’t even realize that I saved someone’s life until after the fact,” she said. “One of the firefighters mentioned it and I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Good to know.’”

For her heroics, Mendes-Rodrigues was honored on Dec. 27 by the Boston Celtics, who presented her with an award at center court during their game as part of their “Heroes Among Us” program.

Mendes-Rodrigues also was recently given the Heartsaver Hero Award from the American Heart Association, a leader in CPR training. While receiving the award during a video presentation, she was congratulated by a special guest: Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb.

"You should be very proud," Gibb told Mendes-Rodrigues. "And it's not just the action you took, it's the emotion that's going on inside you at the same time.

“It’s a song that we came up with without any knowledge whatsoever that it could be used in that way,” Gibb added. “Could never have predicted that it would mean that much to anyone…And the other strange thing is the name of the song.” 

Mendes-Rodrigues said hearing “Stayin’ Alive” will forever remind her of the day she and the song played a role in saving a life. She now urges everyone, especially those with young children, to get CPR certified and to always keep a certain scene in mind. 

“It’s actually really ironic because a bunch of people that I did CPR training with were like, ‘Oh, we’re never gonna need this.’ And then here I am using it. So, you really never know,” Mendes-Rodrigues said. “Better safe than sorry. People being certified will only benefit society.”

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